Magazine article Marketing

The News at Ten Compromise Is a Very British Comedy of Errors

Magazine article Marketing

The News at Ten Compromise Is a Very British Comedy of Errors

Article excerpt

The bad news for ITV is that it will be stuck with this pantomime horse solution for years

The compromise 'solution' to the News at Ten debacle is every bit as entertaining as a rerun of a favourite episode of Fawlty Towers, although, because it is so peculiarly British, the humour is unlikely to travel. Try explaining it to a US broadcaster, for instance.

Neither side can, however, be criticised for wanting to stay out of the clutches of the lawyers and putting together a deal of their own choosing. The ITC in particular was as concerned about the prospect of winning as losing a court battle. You get the nod from the judge, but what would have happened next? What time would then have been acceptable to the Commission and how sour would relationships have become as it imposed its will on a bitter and intransigent ITV system?

Yet it is still difficult to take the outcome seriously. The ITC, with an eye on the government, can claim to have stamped one foot petulantly, but to what end? Protecting a 10pm news slot for three nights a week, but having to say to viewers, sorry, we can't actually guarantee which nights they are going to be. If there is merit in the idea that in a public service world the news should be earlier than 11pm on working nights, then five surely is the right number, not four or three.

The same logic works equally remorselessly in reverse. Not so long ago there was supposed to be a crucial need to modernise the ITV prime time schedule after more than 30 years. It was a matter of survival. Has anything happened since the current schedule was launched more than 18 months ago to change that situation? …

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