ITV calls for compliance rule change

By Andrew Laughlin,

ITV has called on Ofcom to change its rules around ITV1 programme compliance following the British Comedy Awards voting scandal.

Channel TV was today fined 80,000 by the regulator for two instances of voting irregularities on BCA programmes in 2004 and 2005. Both shows were produced by independent firm Michael Hurll Television but directly complied by Channel TV, not ITV.

In a statement, ITV expressed its regret at Channel TV's failure to ensure that both award shows complied with the Broadcasting Code. It said that viewers and talent involved in the programmes were "badly let down by Channel Television".

However, ITV also took the opportunity to attack the current rules around compliance, which mean that third-party producers select the compliance company for ITV1 shows rather than the ITV Network.

Last month, the broadcaster signalled its intention to introduce a "double compliance" system for vetting all network programming after losing faith in Channel TV's competence.

The move was also a reaction to Ofcom's recent Review of Networking Arrangements, which increased the fine for ITV1 compliance breaches to 5% of qualifying revenue across all ITV regional licensees, rather than just the compliance company in question.

"As a result, ITV plc announced that it would be taking steps to protect itself from exposure to sanctions and its viewers from harm, including its intention to oversee the compliance of programmes complied by non-ITV plc companies," said the broadcaster.

"We believe ITV Network should be allowed to exercise full control of all ITV1 programme compliance - as is the case for BBC, Channel 4 and Five. It is totally unacceptable that ITV plc should bear the brunt of any reputational damage associated with third-party compliance failings."