LONDON: ITV, Britain's largest commercial broadcaster, on Tuesday was denied permission to drop children's programming from its afternoon schedules on flagship channel ITV1.

Some observers believe the ruling by media and telecoms watchdog Ofcom signals a less indulgent attitude towards media owners than prevailed under former ceo Stephen Carter.

The latter, who announced his intention to move to unspecified pastures new four months ago [WARC News: 29-May -06] is currently on 'gardening leave' and a frontrunner for the vacant ceo role at ITV.

Arguing that that most children now watch television on dedicated kids' channels - making an afternoon block of children's programming on ITV1 unnecessary - the broadcaster sought Ofcom's approval to abandon the slots.

Approval to do so would have freed-up a new and more lucrative mid-afternoon segment to compete with popular rival programmes such as Channel 4's Deal or No Deal.

Ofcom, however, was not in obliging mood. In a terse statement it pronounced: "The Ofcom board declined a proposal from ITV plc for a significant change in the volume of children's programmes on ITV1."

Data sourced from The Times Online (UK); additional content by WARC staff