ITV boss slams BBC for ‘bleating’ about cuts while blowing cash on Meghan show Suits

He said he couldn’t understand why the BBC wanted the Amercian show

Emma Guinness
Thursday 25 April 2024 17:16 BST
Meghan Markle curtsying scene in Suits

The boss of ITV has slammed the BBC for spending public funds on Meghan Markle’s TV drama Suits.

Kevin Lygo criticised the broadcaster for acquiring all nine seasons of the years-old American show while “bleating” about a lack of funds.

The popular American drama ran from 2011 until 2019 and saw Markle rise to fame as she played Rachel Zane for seven of the show’s nine seasons.

Unlike the BBC, ITV does not have guaranteed public funds, but it was outbid when it came to acquiring the show, which it is set to air later this year.

Lygo, ITV’s managing director of media and entertainment, said he couldn’t understand why the BBC went out its way to buy the drama.

“You hear the BBC bleating about [a lack of funds] and yet they have all the money in the world,” he said, as reported by The Telegraph.

“Why do they buy all that American stuff? I’ve had a go at so many different BBC people about this.

“They just bought Suits, the thing with Meghan Markle. You think: why? They outbid us, by the way. What’s that got to do with licence fee payers’ money?”

Suits helped Markle rise to fame until she left acting behind to marry Prince Harry in 2018
Suits helped Markle rise to fame until she left acting behind to marry Prince Harry in 2018 (Kobal/Shutterstock)

ITV complained to Ofcom about the BBC’s repeat acquisitions of American media last year.

Other notable titles acquired by the broadcaster include the Marvel film Avengers Assemble (2013).

“The BBC competes in the market against other broadcasters, such as ITV, inflating the price at which the content is purchased,” ITV said.

They then said that the publicly-funded institution “should not be permitted to acquire content that is already made (or a format that already exists in another territory) where another commercial rival is prepared to purchase that content or format.

“In other words, the BBC should be the buyer of last resort for pre-existing content or formats in the UK market.”

Meghan and Harry are now working on new TV shows
Meghan and Harry are now working on new TV shows (REUTERS)

News of the show’s acquisition comes hot on the heels of Netflix’s revelation that Markle, 42, will soon be returning to our screens.

She will do so via a lifestyle series that explores “the joys of cooking, gardening, entertaining, and friendship”.

Harry, 39, will also be appearing in his own TV show with the streaming giant and it will take a look at one of his favourite sports, polo.

It is not currently known how much the BBC paid to purchase Suits.

A spokesperson for the BBC told The Independent: “Our spend on acquisitions remains very small when compared to our overall budget, where we are the largest producer of originated programmes in the UK.

“Our successes of the past year including 21 RTS Award wins and 44 nominations at the upcoming TV BAFTA’s demonstrate we are setting the creative bar high in this industry.

“Overall, we spend less than five percent of our annual content budget on acquired programmes, far less compared with other broadcasters.”

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