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Saturday, 24 August, 2002, 21:45 GMT 22:45 UK
ITV boss wanted early football slot
Premiership panel Des Lynam, Ally McCoist and Terry Venables
The Premiership was rescheduled when ratings fell

The outgoing boss of ITV1 has revealed how he wanted to schedule the Premiership highlights programme as near to the final whistle as possible, but had to settle for a later time.

David Liddiment told an Edinburgh audience that in hindsight he would not have moved the Saturday football highlights programme to the 7pm slot.

He said he had wanted to run the show at 6pm, but was forced to accept the problematic peak-time slot, which was axed after just 10 weeks.

David Liddiment, director of programming at ITV1
Liddiment: Says highlights should go with the results

The network's director of programmes was speaking in a discussion of ITV's problems at the Guardian Edinburgh International Television Festival on Saturday.

During the discussion former ITV chief David Elstein blamed management problems for the network's financial and ratings woes.

'No regrets'

Mr Liddiment said he believed if he had succeeded in gaining a teatime slot for the programme, it might now be praised instead for providing innovative TV schedules.

He said he was forced to accept the 7pm time for the programme.

"I would not do it again because it did not work, but I have no regrets," he said.


My real ambition was to run the show at 6pm

David Liddiment

The short-lived programme was scrapped when the ratings started plummeting and was rescheduled at 10.30pm.

It was replaced with light entertainment and eventually the highly successful Pop Idol claimed success in the time slot.

Mr Liddiment said: "My real ambition was to run the show at 6pm.

"In fact, if I could I'd have had 5pm, I wanted it as close the action as possible.

"When you want the football results, you get the highlights of the games."

He said the network had not been able to play the highlights "for contractual reasons".

News change

There was a big difference between six and seven, he added.

"Had we got our way and played it at six, it may have still been there and people would be saying 'what an exciting thing to do'. We reinvented the football highlights show."

David Elstein, former ITV chief
Management problems plagued ITV, says Elstein

Mr Liddiment is giving up his post with ITV and said he may well quit TV - where he has worked for more than 25 years.

Looking back over his time he still insisted the change of slot for the 10 o'clock news "was the right thing to do" - despite its return being ordered by the Independent Television Commission.

Former ITV chief David Elstein, now chairman of the British screen advisory council, condemned the channel's current bosses for what he called a "profound decade of mismanagement".

Mr Elstein, who is now chairman of the British screen advisory council, claimed management problems were to blame for financial and ratings crises.

Strong chief

He said the network's bosses had "lost sight of their core business" of providing popular but quality programming.

Mr Elstein was joined in the debate by former and current senior executives of ITV, including one-time director of channels Richard Eyre and Stuart Prebble.

In July, ITV recorded its lowest-ever share of television viewing.

The panel concluded that a strong chief executive was needed to lead a united ITV but it warned that a merger would neither be easy nor the sole solution to ITV's problems.

Coverage of the 2002 Edinburgh Festival from BBC News Online

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19 Feb 02 | Entertainment
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