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ITV chief: Government must act on public service broadcasting

Sherna Noah, PA Senior Entertainment Correspondent
·2-min read

Public service broadcasters could be “killed off in their current guise” if the Government does not act, the boss of ITV has warned.

A panel, set up by the Government, is looking at the role of the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 amid the rise of US streamers.

ITV chief executive Dame Carolyn McCall said there is an “urgent need” for the Government to change the regulation rules.

She told the Deloitte and Enders Media and Telecoms conference that in the “not too distant future, we will increasingly find that we will only be able to get our programmes to households via… global tech platforms”.

And she warned: “Left unchecked, the powerful owners of those platforms will be able to dictate terms that can kill off PSBs in their current guise in favour of their own services and other global streamers they’ve done worldwide deals with.”

Dame Carolyn McCall
Dame Carolyn McCall (Chris Radburn/PA)

Dame Carolyn said that broadcasters did not “fear” competition.

“Our industry is built on intense competition. But it is about competing on a level playing field,” she said.

“With all competing pressures on Government, what is the urgent need for them to change the PSB framework right now?

“At its simplest, it is because this is a contract for broadcasters to deliver a public good, one that is going to be dramatically eroded because of the ferocious pace of digital change.”

Dame Carolyn wants public service broadcasting shows to be easy to find on smart TVs and other platforms, and for broadcasters to get “fair value” from TV platforms for the investment they have made in programmes.

She was speaking after Good Morning Britain co-host Piers Morgan dramatically quit the ITV show following comments he made about not believing the Duchess of Sussex’s comments in her interview with Oprah Winfrey

Alongside shows such as The Masked Singer and I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here!, broadcast during the pandemic, Dame Carolyn praised ITV’s mental health campaign.

“We ran our mental health campaign, Britain Get Talking, encouraging people to stay connected, and over six and a half million people started a conversation about their mental health as a result,” she said.