ITV boss backs BBC as channel's profits soar 25 per cent

 

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The Independent Online

The BBC gained an unlikely ally when the boss of ITV praised the corporation for making successful “commercial” shows such as Strictly Come Dancing.

Adam Crozier, ITV’s chief executive, said the celebrity ballroom contest was exactly the kind of innovative programme which the BBC should be making.

He said: “Strictly is a very good example of the BBC doing distinctive things. They came up with the idea and they created it and they marketed it very well. That is the kind of thing they should be doing more of.”

The centrepiece of the autumn Saturday night schedule has been widely cited, along with The Voice and EastEnders, as the kind of mass entertainment that the BBC should leave to its commercial rivals.

The Government has published a “Green Paper” on the future of the BBC and John Whittingdale, the Culture Secretary, has set up a commission to look at the renewal of the corporation’s Royal Charter.

The Green Paper raises the question of whether the corporation should be “chasing ratings” or delivering “distinctive, quality” programmes unavailable on other channels. Before taking up his role, Mr Whittingdale said that Strictly Come Dancing should not directly compete for viewers with The X Factor on ITV.

However, this month Mr Whittingdale told BBC1’s The Andrew Marr Show that Strictly was “admirable”.

Mr Crozier offered his support to the BBC, saying the process of reforming the corporation “has not exactly been smooth”. He added: “This is a consultation and we will be making our views known, but it’s all about funding, governance and achieving greater efficiency.”

Mr Crozier was speaking as ITV revealed a 25 per cent rise in first-half profits to £391m despite its overall audience falling by 4 per cent to its lowest level for 15 years.

The broadcaster said the economic recovery and demand for slots around the Rugby World Cup also meant the advertising market was in good shape.

It is also expecting drama series including a new Jekyll & Hyde and Downton Abbey to boost its viewing figures in the second half.

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