The chief executive of ITV has called for an end to the practice of the BBC and ITV going head-to-head with similar programmes in the battle for ratings.
The BBC's Daniel Deronda was seen by nearly 6m people in 2002
Charles Allen said what he called "counter-scheduling" was against the interests of the networks and viewers.
He told a committee of MPs: "Spending £20m on Daniel Deronda and Dr Zhivago and thinking they should be scheduled head-to-head is in no-one's interests."
Mr Allen said he was favour of a strong BBC, which helped ITV's performance.
He told the Commons culture, media and sport select committee: "I don't think it can be in the public's interests when the main channels are targeting exactly the same demographics.
"Whether you are a 16-34-year-old watching a pop programme or a 35-plus watching a key drama, that can't be in the public interest. You are depriving the public of the type of programming they want."
ITV chief executive Allen said he was in favour of competition
Mr Allen also questioned the amount of funding spent on lengthened episodes of drama series such as Holby City, or extra episodes of EastEnders.
But he said: "It's very important to us commercially that there's a strong BBC.
"A weak BBC means they lose ratings to our competitors. Without a strong BBC, ITV would be weakened."
A BBC spokesman said the corporation always attempted when possible to avoid clashes between big-hitting programmes.
In 2002, during what was billed as the year's major battle of rival costume dramas, there was a reported scheduling clash between the BBC's Daniel Deronda and ITV's Dr Zhivago.
In the event the BBC showed Daniel Deronda on a Saturday - 24 hours earlier than ITV's broadcast of Dr Zhivago.
The BBC spokeswoman said it was not always possible to avoid scheduling conflict, but said: "We have gone out of our way to avoid it wherever possible."
She said extra investment in BBC programming had led to more depth and breadth across different categories of programmes.