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EDITIONS
Monday, 19 August, 2002, 10:49 GMT 11:49 UK
BBC hits back at ITV boss
Blue Planet
Liddiment said shows such as Blue Planet were "too few"
The BBC has accused ITV's outgoing head of programmes of presiding over "the most disastrous period in ITV's history" after David Liddiment criticised the corporation in a newspaper interview.

Mr Liddiment told The Guardian that BBC director general Greg Dyke did not understand the corporation's responsibilities.

There is little evidence the BBC values the cultural contribution it has the capacity to make

David Liddiment
He accused Mr Dyke of doing a "terrible disservice" to British cultural values - and said the corporation was driven by ratings and "not a lot else".

Mr Liddiment will be leaving his ITV post in October.

A BBC spokesman told BBC News Online: "We're disappointed that David Liddiment is going, given his effect on ITV's performance.

David Liddiment
Liddiment: BBC too ratings-driven
"We feel rather sorry for him, having presided over the most disastrous period in ITV's history."

"He's desperate to blame anyone but himself for the channel's problems," added the spokesman.

In the interview, Mr Liddiment also called for the BBC to be regulated by broadcasting regulator Ofcom, which is likely to assume more powers over the Corporation under its new chief, Lord Currie.

"It is simply too big and too important to be left to its own devices," he told the paper.

"It doesn't care if public service commercial broadcasting is scarified because it just cares about its own survival.

'Cultural values'

"That's why we need infrastructure to protect the public, and the overall balance of British television," he said.

Mr Liddiment said Mr Dyke was "a great leader of an organisation" but added that he was not the right person for the BBC role.

"He is providing a terrible disservice to range and quality and cultural values in Britain," he added.

"I really think he doesn't understand the purpose of the BBC. Radio 4, BBC Four, orchestras, World Service, that's the dead easy bit.

"The nitty-gritty stuff is about the telly most people watch and the radio most people listen to, and it's in that territory where I see so little evidence of any real grasp of what [the BBC's] responsibilities really are about," he told The Guardian.

Viewers

Mr Liddiment accused the controllers of BBC One and BBC Two of being too ratings-driven.

"What matters to the people who decide what programmes are shown on BBC One and BBC Two is the absolute performance in terms of millions of viewers. Not a lot else," he said.

Greg Dyke
Liddiment said Dyke was not the right person for the role
"There is little evidence coming from the BBC that it values the cultural contribution it has the capacity to make.

"Series like The Blue Planet get quoted incessantly - but how few, how totemic those programmes are."

ITV later responded to the BBC's criticisms of Mr Liddiment.

"The BBC's response to David's comments tells us all we need to know," said a spokeswoman.

"Whenever it is criticised it immediately seeks to undermine the critic, rather than respond intelligently to the issues raised," she added.

Mr Liddiment has been director of programmes at ITV Network Centre since 1997, joined Granada Television in 1975.

Apart from two years as the BBC's light entertainment head in the mid-1990s, he has worked within the ITV network for most of his working life.

The 49-year-old said he has "no plans at all" for work after leaving ITV.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Ray Snoddy, The Times
"Today David Liddiment made it personal"
See also:

19 Aug 02 | Business
13 Aug 02 | Entertainment
25 Jul 02 | Entertainment
17 Jul 02 | Entertainment
09 Jul 02 | Entertainment
04 Jul 02 | Business
05 Jun 02 | Entertainment
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