Introducing the channel’s winter programming on Tuesday, ITV Network’s director of channels David Liddiment admitted the virtual impossibility of beating its main rival, the publicly-funded BBC1 in the current ratings war.

Laden with blockbuster dramas, the £240 million ITV1 offering is also strong on comedy, featuring such appetisers as a Harry Hill series and an animated Mr Bean with its creator Rowan Atkinson as voiceover.

Liddiment believes the package will boost the channel’s present lacklustre ratings: “We had a slow start to the autumn. We are committed to being as competitive as we can be and I am very confident about the remainder of autumn and next year's winter schedule.”

However, ITV was “realistic” about the competitive pressure from its main rival: “The BBC is more commercially focused than it has ever been,” said Liddiment. “It has more money than ever to spend. So there are no easy roads, all we can do it put forward the best competitive schedule we can.”

Liddiment said ITV was “realistic” about the situation in which it found itself. “The BBC is more commercially focused than it has ever been, it has more money than ever to spend. So there are no easy roads, all we can do it put forward the best competitive schedule we can."

He attacked the BBC's strategy of using its assured funding to produce ratings-oriented programming while the commercial sector was beset by the recession and ad slowdown.

“It's really no surprise, when they have a huge increase in money, they move the main evening news back in the schedule, marginalise current affairs and all their explicitly public service programmes. It would be an extraordinary situation indeed, if having done all that, they didn't improve.

Liddiment continued: “I have to live with the reality of the programmes they are running and make sure that ITV puts forward the most competitive response.”

He made no reference to recent ITV ‘own-goals’ such as the scheduling of the Premier League soccer highlights at 7pm on Saturdays, and the pulling of Robert Kilroy Silk's new game show, Shafted.

News source: MediaGuardian.co.uk