UK TV Exec Attacks Premier Blair's Ofcom Appointee

07 February 2005

Addressing a television industry soirée this weekend, former ITV chief executive Stuart Prebble awakened delegates with a caustic attack on Ofcom and, in particular, its senior partner Ed Richards.

Richards - a former Downing Street staffer and policy advisor to premier Blair - is seen by many in the media as Blair's fixer at Ofcom, the media and telecoms supra-regulator formed by act of parliament on 1 January 2004.

Said Prebble: "The big thing I want to put on the record is my opposition to the incredible retreat from regional broadcasting that is taking place.

"It's a mistake, more of an indictment of Ofcom for permitting it than ITV. It is preposterous. Ed Richards knows nothing about making television programmes."

"Twelve years ago I was the head of regional programmes at Granada. We were spending £30,000 a half hour then and now it's down to £6,000 - and they are being pushed to the margins of the schedules. Of course nobody watches!"

Arguing that ITV should be held to its licence commitments, with the terms adjusted to take account of the regional broadcasting burden, Prebble said the issue is "of immense importance to everyone living outside London".

There are so many regional issues, from local politics and debates with MPs, to arts, that required regional TV coverage, he evangelised.

Prebble's diatribe was refuted by current ITV chief executive Charles Allen. Critics, he said, "overlook the fact that Ofcom has raised from 30% to 50% the quota of network programmes ITV has to make from the regions.

Data sourced from; additional content by WARC staff