BBC accuses ITV of 'living in a parallel universe' after ITV brands BBC content ‘derivative’
TV is filling its schedules with downmarket celebrity shows and cutting spending on quality drama, despite a massive increase in its profits, the BBC will claim on Tuesday.
The two broadcasters have been involved in an increasingly bitter war of words, with ITV accusing the BBC of running “derivative” programmes, and claiming that the corporation had tried to undermine the second series of Broadchurch, the hit crime drama, by scheduling Silent Witness, a reliable ratings banker, against it.
Now the BBC has hit back, in an article designed to coincide with the appearance of Adam Crozier, the ITV chief executive, in front of a parliamentary select committee in the UK on Tuesday.
James Heath, the BBC’s policy director, will pour scorn on ITV’s claims that the corporation’s strategy is "to ape ITV and chase ratings at all costs”, accusing the commercial broadcaster of living in a “parallel universe”.
Mr Heath said that while ITV has been showing I’m A Celebrity in prime time each night for the past few weeks, BBC One has been showing dramas such as Capital, and documentaries such as Tomorrow’s Food. He writes: “My first response to the claim that BBC One is aping ITV and chasing ratings at all costs is: ‘Please watch the channels’. The peak-time schedules last week, for example, couldn’t be more different.”
The executive will claim that ITV’s claim that the BBC had targeted Broadchurch by scheduling Silent Witness against it is wrong. He will say: "A closer look reveals that the last three series of Silent Witness (and five of the last six series) have all been scheduled in January, whereas the first series of Broadchurch screened in March and April 2013, with the second series being moved to January. So who is scheduling against whom?"
Mr Heath will also accuse ITV of "aggressive scheduling", by delaying its 10pm news “to target the BBC’s Ten O'Clock News bulletin”, and will say that despite a 550 per cent rise in profits since 2009, “ITV has invested less in real terms on original UK content over the period”.