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Last Updated:  Tuesday, 8 April, 2003, 12:34 GMT 13:34 UK
What the ITC said
The ITC's report provides a run-down of how each of the three main commercial channels did during 2002.

The watchdog's job is to make sure each of the networks is performing up to standard, and to ensure challenging and worthy material is screened alongside more popular fare.

The ITC has the power to levy fines and - in the case of the ITV companies and Five, it can even withdraw their licences if they do not come up to scratch. These powers will be taken up by Ofcom at the end of this year.

This year's report paints a picture of a troubled year for ITV, a good one for Channel 4, and Five coming top of the class - but with room for improvement for all three.


 Mariah Carey
Mariah Carey: Current affairs?

  • The ITC's reports portrays a "could do better" year for ITV, but notes that the network is beginning to turn the corner. Its news output had a "difficult year", with much of the blame going on "unpredictable scheduling".

    The commission says it is keeping changes to the tone of news bulletins under review along with "the extent of reporting on topics related to ITV programmes". However, it is praised for "comprehensive and high quality reports" on big stories.

  • Tonight With Trevor McDonald received both bouquets and brickbats - features on George W Bush and Paul Burrell were praised, but others on Mariah Carey and Michael J Fox "stretched the definition of current affairs".

    Overall, it says, there was "insufficient analysis, coverage of international issues or investigations" - while its best programmes were poorly scheduled.

    Coronation Street
    More Coronation Street would upset the ITC

  • Late-night slots for Melvyn Bragg's South Bank Show, as well as his The Adventure of English series, also concerned the ITC. Both went out at 11pm or later.

  • Documentaries, it notes, were polarised between Bloody Sunday at one extreme and Club Reps at the other.

  • Too many soaps worried the ITC - while Coronation Street "deservedly regained its place as the country's favourite soap", the looming possibility of a fifth weekly episode, "in addition to five editions of Emmerdale is in danger of posing a threat to diversity at peak time". Drama overall was praised.

    Jamie Oliver as seen by 2DTV
    2DTV won praise - as did Jamie's Kitchen

  • ITV's entertainment got the ITC thumbs-up, although it pointed to some "conspicuous failures" and old favourites running out of steam. Pop Idol was a "spectacular success" while animated comedies 2DTV and Mr Bean were praised, along with sitcom Barbara.

  • Children's programmes were also praised, but the ITC notes their future is "uncertain", with heavy competition, including from the BBC's CBBC and Cbeebies channels.

  • ITV's World Cup coverage was "comprehensive and assured", but the ITC noted its Champions League audiences were slipping, in contrast with rising Premiership figures on Sky Sports. "It is also questionable whether ITV is delivering the 'wide range of quality of events' it claims," it notes.

Channel 4

  • Its news and current affairs output is lauded, especially Channel 4 News, Unreported World and the Dispatches series.

    Jon Snow
    Jon Snow's Channel Four News was popular

  • The commission praised its "challenging" documentaries, including Lahore Law and Africa Unmasked, while Jamie's Kitchen was singled out for "throwing light on toung people and the world of work". But a rise in the number of programmes on celebrities was noted.

  • Its schools programmes are praised - it is meant to broadcast 330 hours a year, but it actually put out over 400.

  • Drama is a problem - with a lack of "challenging" material after Shackleton and Sunday were broadcast at the beginning of 2002. Channel 4 is taking steps to change this, the report says.

  • But peak-time arts shows, including Howard Gooddall's Great Dates and The Arts Show, pleased the commission.


  • The UK's youngest terrestrial channel is performing brightly, according to the ITC. Five News gets a gold star for introducing "lively and informative" discussions, building up a consistent following.

  • Morning talk show The Wright Stuff is commended for its "lively appeal", while investigations into a massacre in Afghanistan and the deaths of young recruits at Deepcut army base were also praised.

  • Its coverage of the 11 September anniversary "provided fresh insight", while its new policy of running documentaries at 9pm earned it another pat on the head.

  • The commission was pleased to see "occasional quality dramas" - including Inquisition, starring Derek Jacobi - feature.

  • Tim Marlow's arts programmes on Five pleased the commission - with the whole channel's arts output being praised.

  • Children's show Make Way For Noddy is called a "great success", but the ITC does find fault with its multicultural output, with a lack of diversity in its entertainment series.

Ofcom 'must enforce watershed'
08 Apr 03  |  Entertainment

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