BBC to correct pledges paper

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The Independent Online
The BBC conceded yesterday that its "Statement of Promises to Viewers and Listeners" needed to be corrected to remove suggestions that its main broadcasting rivals did not offer a full range of programme genres in peak time.

The misrepresentation in the statement, which outlined the BBC's 230 promises to licence-payers, last week infuriated Channel 4 and ITV, which both called on the BBC to act swiftly to remedy the mistake. As reported in The Independent, the two rival broadcasters said the BBC should withdraw the document, which is being offered to as many as 10 million households to help prove that the BBC offers value for money.

The list of programme genres on page 7 of the 50-page document suggested that Channel 4 broadcast no natural history, contemporary music or non- serial comedy in peak time. It also implied that ITV had no factual programmes during peak hours.

The BBC explained yesterday that the list was based on strict criteria: "A broadcaster must transmit UK-made programmes in each category for more than half an hour in an average week at peak time," between 6pm and 10:30pm.

In a letter to The Independent, published today, the BBC said: "We should have stated the criterion for inclusion [of programming] and how the calculations were arrived at. We will correct this in further print runs of the promises."

Michael Grade, chief executive of Channel 4, said he would order a review of the schedule to see whether the channel did meet the criteria. "But in any event, the BBC now admits it made a mistake," he added, "I think that every copy already printed should be withdrawn."

Letters, page 11