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ITV 'committed to drama'
01.01.70 | Philip Jones
The future of book-based dramas at ITV is uncertain after it announced plans to make 600 jobs redundant and reduce programme spend by £65m. While a spokesman said ITV was “committed to drama”, he added that exactly how the cost-cutting would affect arts programming would not be known for several months.
However, he pointed to a recent interview with director of ITV Drama Laura Mackie in which she said that her current focus was “popular” programming. She told Broadcast magazine on 25th February: “Crime thrillers and 20th-century dramas are things that ITV does very well. We own those, [whereas] period pieces define the BBC. That's not to say we will never do them, but right now I am looking for things that are popular rather than worthy.”
Announcing the cuts on Wednesday, ITV executive chairman Michael Grade issued a statement saying: “To deliver these savings, ITV is re-engineering its schedule . . . the programming mix is being shifted towards entertainment.”
ITV has already dropped “Wire in the Blood” by Val McDermid in February and abandoned a remake of A Passage to India by E M Forster in December. However, the spokesman added that ITV was still receiving ideas for arts drama programming from its own and indie production teams.
Outside drama, the picture may not be so bleak. On 20th February, Kevin Morgan, content director of ITV Global Entertainment, announced ITV's book publishing strategy. He said: "Successful book publishing has always played a central role in all our brand extensions, for both our ITV and independently produced programming. We're currently meeting with publishers to discuss new strategic licences for our primetime and daytime shows across documentary, factual-entertainment, lifestyle and sport."