ITV Unaffected by Sky's Share Snatch, Claims Boss

27 November 2006

LONDON: Just seven days into BSkyB's surprise acquisition of a key 17.9% stake in Britain's largest commercial broadcaster ITV, its director of television claimed the deal has had "no effect" on the company's day-to-day operations.

With the ink still wet on Clan Murdoch's £940 million ($1.78bn; €1.38bn) cheque, the statement by ITV director of television Simon Shaps seems oddly naïve.

Speaking at Friday's launch of ITV's winter programme schedules, he told attendees: "There is no change in the way that I am operating. My job is commissioning and buying programmes and scheduling them."

It is not known what Shaps expected within the timespan. An armoured division led by second-lieutenant Murdoch J, smashing through the glass cladding of ITV Tower on Thames South Bank?

Continued the hapless scheduler: "You couldn't have worked in ITV for the last twelve months and not be aware of the huge amount of speculation about the [flagship ITV1] channel and ITV plc.

"It is a testimony to the strength of the team that they have been completely focused on the reinvention of the channel. They haven't allowed themselves to be distracted by any of the speculation."

However, observers see little sign of ITV1's "reinvention", the winter mix remaining remarkably similar to its traditional formula of gameshows, chatshows and soaps.

There is, however, one innovation. UK's first interactive online soap channel, giving viewers an online opportunity to anticipate upcoming storylines for rural saga Emmerdale.

Few think the gimmick likely to reverse ITV's continuing audience decline.

Data sourced from; additional content by WARC staff