BBC One has turned down the chance to air this year's British Comedy Awards, according to new reports.
ITV has aired the event for the past 17 years but last week announced it did not want to broadcast it this year, following alleged problems with phone votes for the People’s Choice award.
BBC One controller Peter Fincham decided not to step in because of the bad publicity such a move might attract, according to MediaGuardian. His decision comes amid a flurry of stories about the corporation’s own phone polls, including one to name the Blue Peter cat.
It leaves Channel 4 as the frontrunner to broadcast this year's awards, scheduled to go ahead in December with Jonathan Ross as host.
A meeting between the broadcaster and producer Michael Hurll Television is said to be ‘imminent’.
By partnering with the commercial channel, the production company would still be able to sign lucrative sponsorship deals that would have been restricted by BBC rules.
The show's producers are also understood to have met with Sky One, but a deal is unlikely to be struck, MediaGuardian says.
Last week ITV said it had ‘postponed’ its broadcast of the awards while media law firm Olswang investigates alleged phone-voting irregularities.