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Government denies that it is looking to clamp down upon ‘competitive scheduling’ at the BBC


By John McCarthy, Opinion Editor

May 2, 2016 | 2 min read

The UK government has distanced itself from claims that it is looking to intervene with the scheduling of flagship programmes.

During the weekend, the Mail on Sunday quoted a government source backed state intervention with the public broadcaster’s schedule to reduce “competitive scheduling”, claiming: "It would be obvious when ITV had a flagship programme they were hoping to get high ratings for and where it would be unfair for the BBC to take it on head-to-head”

Reports suggested that BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing could be moved to avoid it clashing with ITV and other commercial broadcaster’s prime-time output.

Labour shadow culture secretary, Maria Eagle said: “John Whittingdale (culture secretary) is behaving as if he were running the BBC – he is not. This kind of meddling in day-to-day scheduling decisions would be a completely unacceptable interference in the independence of the BBC. Labour will fight it all the way.”

A department for culture, media and sport spokesperson, denied the accusation, stating: “The government will be setting out its plan on the BBC charter in a white paper in May.

“The secretary of state has made it clear on a number of occasions that the government cannot, and indeed should not, determine either the content or scheduling of programmes.”

BBC John Whittingdale ITV

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