News, Culture & Society

ITV accuses BBC of buying up US shows in bid to ‘maximise’ audience figures among younger viewers

ITV accuses BBC of buying up US shows in bid to ‘maximise’ audience figures among younger viewers

  • The broadcaster raised fears the relaunch of BBC could see bought-in US shows
  • ITV told Ofcom BBC’s objective is to ‘maximise audience share of 16-34s’ 
  • C4 said there should be a ‘high bar’ for BBC to justify buying these foreign shows
  • BBC has aquired Gossip Girl and ‘hugely popular’ Pokemon animated series 


ITV has accused the BBC of buying up expensive US shows to ‘maximise’ younger audience viewing figures.

The commercial broadcaster raised fears the relaunch of BBC3 as a traditional TV channel could see it filled with bought-in American shows.

ITV pointed to the BBC’s acquisition of revamped US series Gossip Girl which it said ‘saw the BBC offer significantly above the market’.

It told Ofcom this showed ‘the BBC’s primary objective is to maximise audience share of 16-34s in any way possible’ and that BBC3 risks being too commercial in its approach.

ITV told Ofcom this showed ‘the BBC’s primary objective is to maximise audience share of 16-34s in any way possible’ and that BBC3 risks being too commercial in its approach

It said there was nothing to stop the BBC ‘spending the vast majority’ of BBC3’s content budget on ‘popular US shows to air in prime time slots’.

ITV made the comments, which also included concerns that BBC3 could be full of repeats, in its response to the Ofcom consultation about the return of the TV channel.

The broadcaster said in the past US animations American Dad and Family Guy had driven a third of all BBC3 viewing, adding it was now ‘very concerned that the BBC is on track to go even further down this road’ when the channel relaunches.

It is concerned that the media regulator may not being strict enough with the BBC about the type of programming it shows and its commitment to delivering public value through BBC3

It is concerned that the media regulator may not being strict enough with the BBC about the type of programming it shows and its commitment to delivering public value through BBC3 

As well as Gossip Girl, ITV pointed out that the BBC had also acquired all 189 episodes of the ‘hugely popular’ Pokemon animated series.

It is concerned that the media regulator may not being strict enough with the BBC about the type of programming it shows and its commitment to delivering public value through BBC3.

In its response, Channel 4 raised concerns about the BBC ‘outbidding’ other public service broadcasters for shows, saying this was ‘pushing the price up’ for content that ‘would have already have been shown in the UK’.

It said there should be a ‘high bar’ for the BBC to justify buying in these foreign shows and should demonstrate it had not ‘unnecessarily inflated’ the price for shows that ‘could have found a home elsewhere’.

ITV added: ‘There are, essentially, no barriers to BBC Three becoming an entirely mainstream commercial service, in direct competition with ITV2 and other free-to-air services serving the same audience and competing for rights to the same shows.’

Channel 4 raised concerns about the BBC ¿outbidding¿ other public service broadcasters for shows, saying this was ¿pushing the price up¿ for content that ¿would have already have been shown in the UK¿

Channel 4 raised concerns about the BBC ‘outbidding’ other public service broadcasters for shows, saying this was ‘pushing the price up’ for content that ‘would have already have been shown in the UK’

Pointing to a lack of obligations on quality, it said: ‘As a result, the BBC is ostensibly free to spend most of its budget on US acquired content for prime-time broadcast, leaving minimal budget for first-run UK original commissions that could languish at the edges of the schedule.’

ITV there were ‘strong grounds’ to suggest the publicly funded broadcaster should not be reliant on acquisitions at all.

Its submission said: ‘If the Licence Fee is the venture capital for the UK creative industries, every pound spent on US acquired material is a pound that leaves the UK creative economy and is not spent on material that portrays the lives and interests of the people of the UK who pay for the BBC.’

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk