BBC 'targeting The X Factor with Strictly scheduling clashes', says ITV boss


The head of ITV has accused the BBC of deliberately scheduling clashes between Strictly Come Dancing and The X Factor.

ITV has released its full schedule for The X Factor shows this year in a bid to evade any blame for the Saturday and Sunday night ratings battle between the rival reality contests.

The BBC has allegedly already moved back the air time of the Strictly launch show on Saturday September 5 so that it overlaps with the third episode of The X Factor.

Peter Fincham, director of ITV, claimed at the Edinburgh International Television Festival that the BBC was responsible for the ratings war, accusing it of trying to "clip The X Factor's wings".

He said: "What happens with billings is that we have a number of exchanges, so on Saturday week there's a Strictly Come Dancing launch show and a third X Factor audition show. And we had a first exchange which had The X Factor show starting exactly where the Strictly show ended. Which is a pretty happy outcome for everybody.

"That revealed to each broadcaster what we were doing, so the BBC knew what we were doing.

"In the second exchange, they moved Strictly 20 minutes later. I don't know why they did that, but it feels a bit like, 'Let's try to see if we can clip The X Factor's wings.'

"This really matters to us, because we are a commercial business.

"I know from my own time at the BBC that this is a bit of a game.

"All the evidence we have from our audiences is that they don't want the two to overlap. It's perfectly possible for them not to overlap."

The BBC's head of television Danny Cohen hit back, saying ITV is just as responsible for the "to-ing and fro-ing" that goes on in the schedules.

He said: "These things happen all the time. We've noticed suddenly Emmerdale finds itself up against EastEnders with astonishing regularity."

A BBC spokesman said: "We always try to avoid clashes, but we schedule our programmes with licence fee payers in mind and they tell us they want high-quality entertainment at the heart of the Saturday night schedule."