ITV deaf to comedy award protests

Network ignores petition

ITV has ignored the complaints of hundreds of viewers demanding next week’s British Comedy Awards be shown live.

A petition containing almost 700 names, organised by Chortle, was delivered to ITV more than two weeks ago, yet neither executive chairman Michael Grade nor any of his staff has issued any sort of response.

ITV’s press office has twice been asked to make a comment about the petition, but not responded.

An independent group has also been started on the Facebook social networking site, attracting almost 200 members – including TV critics Jaci Stephen and Garry Bushell.

The channel will be screening the Steve Carell comedy film The 40-Year-Old Virgin next Wednesday night, when the annual awards are being handed out in central London.

ITV is holding on to the rights to the programme, but is refusing to show it live because of concerns about the phone-in vote for the 2005 People’s Choice Award, eventually won by Ant & Dec.

Other programmes found to have repeatedly misled viewers, including GMTV and Ant & Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway have remained on air. But even though the comedy awards will this year feature no public vote, ITV has not changed its position.

Nevertheless the proceedings, hosted by Jonathan Ross, will still be recorded and may go out at a later date – although ITV has yet to confirm this.

The petition said that: ‘The decision to postpone the show indefinitely penalises the millions of fans who tune into the event, which has become one of the highlights of the broadcast calendar. Dropping an awards show which has attracted a loyal audience to your channel over the past 17 years seems to be wrongly targeting innocent viewers.’

Published: 30 Nov 2007

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