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Channel TV 'slams ITV compliance plans'

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Channel TV 'slams ITV compliance plans'
Channel TV has said that it is "dismayed" at ITV's plans to introduce a "double compliance" system for vetting all network programming, reports The Guardian.

As the ITV licence holder in the Channel Islands, Channel TV currently provides legal compliance services for major ITV programming such as The X Factor and Britain's Got Talent.

However, ITV intends to start double checking future programming with its in-house compliance team after Ofcom revealed plans to introduce tougher penalties for any operators transgressing its broadcasting code.

An ITV spokesman said: "The [Ofcom] review leaves in place the ability for producers commissioned by the ITV Network to choose which compliance licensee they use, which includes ITV licensees not owned or controlled by ITV plc.

"As a result ITV plc is now obliged to take steps to protect itself from exposure to sanctions arising from compliance processes in respect of which it currently has no control, and little visibility."

In response to this move, Channel TV said that it is "dismayed that our colleagues in ITV have seen fit to call into question our record".

The company also pointed to the fact that Ofcom last year described ITV as having "completely inadequate compliance system" for many of its biggest shows.

"In marked contrast to ITV, Channel has yet to be penalised for compliance failures, although expects a penalty with regard to one show after nine years of complying some of the biggest programmes on ITV such as The X Factor and Britain's Got Talent," said the broadcaster.

Previously, the watchdog has only been able to levy fines against individual Channel 3 licence holders in cases of transgression, but the new arrangement would leave ITV liable to potentially huge fines for any ITV1 network shows which breach the broadcasting code.

Last year, the company was fined a record £5.675 million for "seriously and repeatedly misleading its audience" on 86 occasions during the past four years. Shows in question included Soapstar Superstar and Ant and Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway.

Channel TV also accrues revenue by providing legal compliance for ITV programming on the network. However, an ITV source indicated that compliance should not be viewed as a revenue generator for licence holders, but instead be simply used to maintain standards.

"Compliance should not be a competitive, free market business. The fact that Channel see it that way should send alarm bells ringing across the industry," the source explained.

"Compliance should be an at-cost service for producers, delivering high quality, security and probity for viewers. ITV has put in place stringent compliance measures since the Deloitte Report [into compliance failings] which are industry gold standard.

"We comply thousands of hours of programming for ITV1 and all our digital channels. Our ratio of breaches against hours of programming complied is minuscule compared to other licensees."

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