BBC ratings blight

Multichannel trend decreases net's share

LONDON — The BBC was hit hardest by the growth of multichannel television in 1999, with its flagship BBC1 channel at an average 28.3% in the ratings, a drop of 1.2%.

BBC2 had a 10.8% average, down from 11.3%. That puts the two channels at less than 40% for the first time, and comes as the pubcaster is petitioning the U.K. government for additional funding for its digital services. A decision on whether the BBC will get more money is due this month.

Other nets

Meanwhile, the ITV network came within a hair of reaching its 39% primetime ratings target for 1999, hitting 38.8%.

That is a healthy rise of 0.9%, enough to ensure that ITV chief exec Richard Eyre and head of programming David Liddiment will each receive bonuses: £100,000 ($164,000) and $123,000, respectively. ITV’s stated goal is 40% of primetime in 2000.

ITV’s overall share was 31.2%, down from 31.7%. The primetime boost, however, helped increase advertising sales for the year by $328 million to about $3.1 billion.

Channel 4, Britain’s other established terrestrial, maintained its 10.3% market share. Channel 5, which launched in 1997, was at 5.4%, up from 4.3%. C5 has done well with sports and movie programming.

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