ITV moves football show after poor run of results

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The Independent Online

Disastrous audience figures have forced ITV to move its peak-time Saturday football show, The Premiership, to a more obscure late-night slot.

Responding to the complaints of angry advertisers, David Liddiment, the ITV director of channels, announced the programme would be shown at 10.30pm, not 7pm. Having paid £183m for the rights for three years, the programme was routinely beaten by rival shows on BBC1, even losing on one occasion to the Edinburgh Military Tattoo. The football show was averaging 4.4 million viewers, while BBC1's Dog Eat Dog won about 6.5 million and the National Lottery show more than 8 million.

Announcing that The Premiership would move to the later time on 17 November, Mr Liddiment said: "I had hoped to give the programme more time to consolidate in the 7pm slot but pressure on the overall performance of the schedule and advertising revenues means that we simply cannot sustain the current position."

Weeks of speculation over the fate of the show had raised the prospect that Des Lynam, who joined from the BBC, would leave if the peak-time slot was surrendered. But the presenter said he was proud of the show ITV had created and would continue to host it. While at the BBC he often complained that 10.30pm was too late for Match of the Day.

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