Bragg hits out at Birt over attack on ITV

Lord Bragg made his comments in response to a speech by Lord Birt during the Edinburgh International Television Festival last month, in which he said ITV was "clinging on by its fingertips" in terms of public service provision.

Speaking at the launch of a new season of The South Bank Show, Lord Bragg claimed ITV was "the only cross-spectrum credible competition" to the BBC. "John has no right to dismiss it in that uncharacteristic cavalier way.

On the other hand, perhaps he has joined the club of beached grandees ... knights of old with rubber lances who hit out at an ITV whose programmes - dare I say it, they may not have seen - all honourable men, who deliver at regular intervals the curse of 'golden ageism' and come to bury ITV."

Richard Eyre, a former ITV chief executive, said Lord Bragg had no need to react so defensively. "Some of the criticism of ITV is not an attack and does not need to be defended against, it needs to be weighed and considered and someone needs to take a view on whether ITV could be improved by listening to the criticism."

Lord Birt was unavailable for comment.

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