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Wednesday, 11 September, 2002, 12:10 GMT 13:10 UK
BBC calls for thriving ITV
I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here...
ITV says it wants to make more shows like Celebrity...
BBC director general Greg Dyke has made a surprise appeal to the government to scrap a tax on commercial rival ITV so the channel can plough more money into programmes.

ITV currently pays 300m per year to the Treasury - which it says could be better spent on improving their shows.


A thriving, popular and energetic ITV is important to the future of British TV

Greg Dyke
BBC
Mr Dyke set aside recent arguments between the BBC and ITV over the quality of output and said a strong and healthy ITV would be good for viewers and the broadcasting industry.

He expressed sympathy for ITV, which is in the middle of a "very serious" advertising recession that has seen the company's revenues slump to 1997 levels.

"The broadcast ecology in the UK is stronger if ITV is in good health - it helps everybody, BBC included, to raise their game," he told the Royal Television Society conference.

Greg Dyke
Mr Dyke said the "monopoly tax" was out of date
"A thriving, popular and energetic ITV is important to the future of British TV and British TV production."

The BBC would welcome a single ITV company, Mr Dyke said, dismissing the decades-old view that ITV was a "licence to print money".

"A monopoly tax was fine when commercial television was a monopoly but today it isn't," he said.

"If the money being paid to the government today was released so that ITV and Channel 5 could increase expenditure on programming both the television production and broadcasting industries would be beneficiaries."

Mr Dyke made his name as a broadcaster in ITV, starting out at London Weekend Television in 1977. He became its chief executive in 1991, a post he held for three years until the company was bought by Granada.

During that time he also spent spells with now-defunct companies TV-am and TVS. They lost their licences in 1992, under the system which saw ITV franchises auctioned off to the highest bidder.

Success

Gerry Murphy, chief executive of Carlton, one of the big two ITV companies along with Granada, denied ITV was struggling for viewers - but said its financial situation did force it to chase ratings.

"We make no apology for it - ITV's success is about giving the great British public what it wants - whether that's Morse or Millionaire, I'm a Celebrity or Coronation Street," he told the conference.

"Remember, ITV pays into the public purse around 300m before we ever make a single programme.

"Less revenue means less investment in programmes and a poorer viewer experience."

See also:

09 Sep 02 | Entertainment
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04 Jan 02 | Newsmakers
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