UK govt considers banning BBC from “competitive scheduling”

ITV complains BBC has targeted its timeslots with Strictly Come Dancing, Call the Midwife & Silent Witness.


There are reports in the UK that the government is considering banning the BBC from scheduling some of its biggest shows in timeslots that compete with commercial broadcaster ITV.

It follows ITV complaining that Strictly Come Dancing (the original Dancing with the Stars) was pitted against The X Factor -the latter saw its audience drop. BBC’s Call the Midwife ended up broadcasting at the same time as the final episode of ITV’s Downton Abbey and Silent Witness was pitted against ITV’s Broadchurch.

According to reports, culture secretary John Whittingdale is said to be looking at new proposals to prevent the BBC from scheduling shows directly against commercial rivals.

A spokesperson said the Government will be setting out its plan on the BBC Charter in a White Paper in May.

“The Secretary of State has made it clear on a number of occasions that the government cannot and indeed should not, determine either the content or scheduling of programmes,” a spokesperson from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport said.

The BBC has since pointed out that an independent report into so-called ‘competitive scheduling’ commissioned by the government concluded there was “little impact” in BBC and ITV putting dramas on at the same time.

While the proposal seems radical, there will be those watching from afar. Media interests in Australia have previously criticised ABC, particularly in its news output, for supposedly impacting commercial interests.

Last week Nine CEO Hugh Marks told a Senate hearing increased competition from public broadcasters was an issue.

“Their budget is significantly higher than ours, so with the amount of content we produce, the analysis we had said we have a 30 per cent more efficient outcome,” he said.

Source: Radio Times

13 Responses

  1. ITV will apply what pressure they can to help stem their flow of flops. Fact remains though that ITV virtually have a free to air television advertising monopoly in the UK as all the other channels are bound by charters.

  2. This is ridiculous. Businesses are apparently all for competition except when their business isn’t doing so well. Then it’s straight to lobbying the govt to give them a helping hand.

    Hugh Marks: “Their budget is significantly higher than ours…”
    I know of at least $115,000 that could have been better spent.

    1. To steal from a different thread: it’s almost like ITV feels entitled to free timeslots…

      (Hugh Marks also seems to be pulling the little trick of comparing the entire ABC budget – national radio, TV, online, and everything else – to Nine Entertainment’s capital-city only TV, online, and point bugger-all of a radio network. And he’s been pushing that “30% more efficient” line since he took over last year…)

  3. Yes competition is a terrible thing. Perhaps people actually like the fact they can watch a diverse array of free programming without 15 minutes of advertising per hour. And Hugh Marks is peddling this in Australia too. Perhaps when there is any watchable show on the ABC which might challenge commercial free to air programming he could flick the ABC to a fish swimming in a bowl. I suspect the fish would out rate much of Nine’s programming.

    1. Yes the BBC is owned by the government but paid for by people through the tv licence. BBC Worldwide is the commercial arm of the BBC, they pay money to the BBC but they can not take money from the BBC to fund BBC Worldwide projects.

    2. The BBC’s primary source of revenue is from TV and Radio licence fees collected by a contracted private agency, the bulk of the ABC’s money comes from our taxes collected by the Govt. BBC Trustees are appointed by the Queen on advice from the Govt, the ABC Board are mostly political appointees by the Govt of the day. Both organisations are “independent”.

  4. So much then for ‘competition’, the manta from conservative types? It is simple, if you put up crud to the masses, of course they won’t watch. And this would just breed laziness (ie cheapness) for itv,

  5. Although this is a very worrying move from a culture secretary of very questionable ethics it is worth noting that despite The X Factor v Strictly being the focus of most reports that they rarely do clash – there is an unofficial gentlemans agreement that they don’t and other than the odd 15 minute overlap it’s rare they do. It’s also fair to say The X Factors recent woes are all of their own making – indeed both shows have seen their ratings fall in the last few years but whilst Strictlys have just dipped slightly each year The X Factors have dropped significantly – but they also had far further to fall from.

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