The ITV executive chairman Michael Grade, has suggested it could drop its public service responsibilities and hand responsibility for regional news to a third party such as ITN. Grade reiterated that ITV would “prefer to remain a licensed PSB, if justified economically”, but outlined a possible scenario in which the broadcaster could drop its PSB obligations and become purely commercial.
Grade also outlined a future scenario in which ITV would have to buy its existing Freeview spectrum at the market rate, as it currently enjoys free spectrum as a PSB. “ITV would enjoy a unified brand, with the widest UK coverage through DTT [Freeview] and other platforms,” he added. “There would be no regulatory prescription – the lightest touch.” ITV is a shareholder in Freeview.
He dismissed queries that sacrificing a privileged spot on the electronic programme guide, a benefit of PSB status, would necessarily harm viewing. “People are not going to stop watching Coronation Street because we are not on the front page of the EPG,” he said.