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Jeremy Clarkson’s Meghan column does not impact ITV brand, says chief executive

Jeremy Clarkson’s Meghan column does not impact ITV brand, says chief executive

The chief executive of ITV said Jeremy Clarkson’s comments about the Duchess of Sussex “do not wash over” and negatively impact the brand.

Dame Carolyn McCall said the broadcaster has “handled” criticism of the Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? presenter’s column for The Sun newspaper “quite well”.

She also echoed a statement from the broadcaster on Wednesday after his reported exit from the ITV show hit the headlines.

ITV Autumn Entertainment launch
Jeremy Clarkson hosts Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? (PA)

When asked to clarify ITV’s position on Clarkson during a press call, Dame Carolyn said on Thursday: “As we said for several weeks, ITV is contractually committed to a further series of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?, which has now been recorded.

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“There are no further commission commitments beyond that currently, as is typical with such shows where we make commissioning decisions on a series-by-series basis.

“Therefore, for the avoidance of doubt, neither Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? nor Jeremy Clarkson have been cancelled. I think that is as clear as we can be.”

Clarkson’s position as host of the quiz show was thrown into question in December when he said in a column for The Sun that he “hated” Meghan and dreamed of her being paraded through British towns.

Dame Carolyn was asked if she was worried about the impact on the brand and said: “No, I think we’ve handled it quite well.

“We’ve been very clear… Kevin (Lygo, managing director for media and entertainment at ITV) has been very overt about the comments being awful.

“I’ve said there’s no place for those comments on ITV and they weren’t on ITV, they were in The Sun.

The Duchess of Sussex
Clarkson said he ‘hated’ Meghan and dreamed of seeing her paraded through the streets (PA)

“So, no, I don’t think there’s a wash over on to the brand.”

Clarkson’s piece in The Sun became the Independent Press Standards Organisation’s (Ipso) most complained-about article.

Former Top Gear presenter Clarkson, who now has several Amazon shows including The Grand Tour, later apologised for the piece.

He said his language was “disgraceful” and he was “profoundly sorry”.

The Sun also apologised and said it regretted the publication of the column, which was removed from its website.

Mr Lygo previously said Clarkson’s comments about Meghan were “awful” but “at the moment” the broadcaster planned to keep him as host of the ITV quiz show.

Elsewhere, ITV was asked about the broadcast media regulator Ofcom looking into Nicola Bulley’s family claim their privacy was breached by the broadcaster’s news channel and Sky News.

Dame Carolyn said: “We’ve said that we as a responsible broadcaster are co-operating fully with Ofcom. Ofcom are investigating both Sky and ITV and we will wait for their investigation to conclude.”

When asked about her response, she added: “I think we won’t say anything until Ofcom have investigated thoroughly.

“I mean, we’re a responsible broadcaster, we take it very seriously. So less said, I think at the moment.”

Ofcom said previously it was “extremely concerned” by comments from Ms Bulley’s family about the press after the 45-year-old’s body was recovered from the River Wyre in Lancashire last month.

The media regulator is assessing whether or not it will launch a formal investigation.

In a press conference at Lancashire Police’s headquarters, Ms Bulley’s family said in a statement: “We tried last night to take in what we had been told in the day, only to have Sky News and ITV (News) making contact with us directly when we expressly asked for privacy.

“They again have taken it upon themselves to run stories about us to sell papers and increase their own profits. It is shameful they have acted in this way. Leave us alone now.”

The way the case was handled by police has been referred to the College of Policing, the Independent Office for Police Conduct and the Information Commissioner’s Office.