ITV chief Carolyn McCall has expressed her disappointment at losing out on broadcasting Emma Raducanu’s historic U.S. Open triumph, revealing her company was outbid by rival Channel 4 for the rights to show the Amazon Prime Video program on free-to-air.
McCall, who is an ardent tennis fan, admitted that ITV was in the mix (the BBC was also a contender) but, as a commercial-led PSB (public service broadcaster), the broadcaster had to make the numbers work. “We have to make a return. We really wanted it, [but] we had to make money, that’s our model,” she commented during a panel at this week’s Royal Television Society conference in the UK.
On the subject of Channel 4, the exec declined to be drawn on whether ITV will be in the mix to acquire the channel if the government decides to progress with privatizing the state-owned broadcaster.
She did however say that it was “incredibly important that the remit of Channel 4 remains the remit of Channel 4” and that it continues to occupy its own place in the overall PSB landscape. “This is a matter for government, they could change their mind. This question comes up every 10 years anyway,” she added.
Asked whether ITV wants to remain a PSB, McCall said the company wanted to continue as a “commercial PSB” but its status would be dictated by the modernization of the 2003 Broadcasting Act (which created Ofcom). “Ofcom get it [that the act should be updated], it’s up to the government to legislate now,” she added.
Whether the government actually implements that change is another matter, however. “DCMS are good at listening, I’ve yet to see evidence of the acting,” continued McCall. “It’s all to play for now, they have so much information from all of us.”
“They value PSBs,” the exec affirmed.
One of the main talking points at the RTS Convention this year has been the future of broadcasters Andrew Neil and Piers Morgan, both of whom are free agents after the former recently departed GB News.
“Andrew and Piers are going to do really well wherever they go,” said McCall, who noted that the company had “vigorously defended” Morgan to Ofcom over his controversial comments about Meghan Markle’s mental health on Good Morning Britain that eventually saw him resign from ITV. “We champion freedom of speech and freedom of expression,” she added.
McCall wouldn’t say if either man could appear on ITV any time soon, but did add she doesn’t expect them to be out of the game for long. “I think you’re going to get Andrew and Piers on a global platform any day soon,” she said.