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Making the Grade

Posted By Ian Jones On Sunday, August 31, 2008 @ 6:01 pm In blog | Comments Disabled

Once I would have been appalled at the idea of scrapping ITV, but not anymore.

"My dear Mr Grade, when are you bringing back 3-2-1?"

"My dear Mr Grade, when are you bringing back 3-2-1?"

Once I would’ve had some default reaction along the lines of: don’t even dream of touching such an institution; sure, it might be ailing, a half-breath of the presence it used to be, but don’t say the remedy should be extinction. It still has a part to play, it still stands for something…doesn’t it?

Actually I’m not quite sure when I would have argued such a thing. 10 years ago? 20? The last programme I really cared about on ITV was Cracker, and even that got cocked up. So now I have no reserve in proposing its demise.


But in a practical, constructive way, mind. Basically, the channel should join its cousins as a purely-digital venture. ITV1 should air from 7pm to 1am every night, on Freeview, satellite, cable and online. It should vanish from the analogue spectrum. This would:

a) be an enormous kick up the arse for the rest of the country to switch to digital
b) save Michael Grade a hell of a lot of money (and a lot of face besides)
c) make sense

Because there’s no logic in ITV existing as a public service broadcaster anymore. It doesn’t broadcast anything of public service. It hates the fact it has to fill the daytime with programmes, so take the daytime away from it. It can’t stand having to broadcast the news, so scrap that too. It can’t give sport the time and format it deserves, so ditch that and relaunch ITV Sport as a digital channel. GMTV could go it alone if it wanted, again as a purely digital service.

The only things that ITV1 can rely on these days to earn it money are Coronation Street, Emmerdale and Simon Cowell. They also seem to be the only things people want to watch on ITV1. Fair enough: stuff the schedules of the new all-digital ITV1 with them, plus The Bill, Heartbeat and a film to finish the evening off. Sorted. There’d even be proper start-ups and closedowns again, to please anyone over the age of 30.

One piece of legislation would do the trick. It could be Gordon Brown’s legacy to the nation. Were Michael Grade to propose such a thing, and then succeed, he’d be slaughtered by the press and politicians for about three weeks, but then hailed as the saviour of ITV for the rest of his days.

Do it Mike!

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