ITV denies 'burying bad news'

The Liberal Democrat shadow culture secretary has accused ITV of “burying bad news” after it released the findings of a damning report into phone-ins on the same day as the BBC announced swingeing job cuts.

ITV this morning admitted to a series of “serious editorial issues” surrounding the use of premium-rate competitions, following an independent investigation by Deloitte. The broadcaster said the cost of refunding viewers would be £7.8m.

Bath MP and shadow culture, media and sport secretary Don Foster said the timing of ITV’s announcement was “misjudged” – as it coincided with the confirmation by BBC director general Mark Thompson of a wide-ranging cost-cutting initiative designed to plug the corporation’s £2bn funding shortfall.

“Despite introducing a series of very effective and extensive measures to put its house in order, today’s release will only be interpreted as an attempt to bury bad news,” Foster said.

“I sincerely hope that the welcome compensation package and new protections mark the end of a very sorry episode in ITV’s history.”

An ITV spokeswoman said chairman Michael Grade had been completely open about the story, and the broadcaster had made no attempt to “sneak it out”.

“We had a duty to get this out as soon as we possibly could,” she said. “The idea that we are burying news is not true.

“We’re not stupid and we are fully aware of the journalistic value of this story. Michael Grade has done nothing but speak to the media this morning.”

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