Broadcaster axes TV quiz channelITV Play replaced by catch-up screening
14 March 2007
ITV has announced it is to scrap its TV quiz channel ITV Play.
The broadcaster says the decision has been made to free up space on the digital spectrum.
ITV Play will still be aired overnight on terrestrial channels ITV1 and ITV2, where it earned £20 million in its first year.
The channel, which launched a year ago and makes a loss, will be replaced on the digital terrestrial platform by ITV2+1 this week.
ITV Play's premium-rate quizzes have faced controversy during the TV phone-in row. But the broadcaster says its decision is part of an ongoing review into the digital spectrum.
The channel is already off air as part of ITV's independent review into TV phone-ins.
An ITV spokesman said the decision had nothing to do with the TV phone-in furore.
He said: 'Following Deloitte's review, ITV is satisfied all Play programming is being operated in accordance with the Icstis and Ofcom codes.'
Jonathan Lewis, Director of ITV's digital channels, said: 'ITV2 is a hugely valuable asset in our digital portfolio.
'In reviewing the optimum use of our digital spectrum we have taken a commercial decision to increase its impact and reach with a plus one channel.
'We continue to monitor the performance of all of our digital channels as part of this ongoing review.'
William van Rest, ITV Play Controller, said: 'ITV Play programming has proved most popular on ITV1 and ITV2.
'I am delighted that we have been able to return these services following the Deloitte review and that viewers are able to continue to enjoy our shows.'
Phone-in quizzes have been criticised for enticing viewers to call premium-rate numbers, costing 75p at time, with little chance of getting through.
ITV Play's Quizmania programme, which included a balaclava and Rawlplugs in a test of 12 things most likely to be found in a woman's handbag, was censured by Ofcom earlier this year.
Chancellor Gordon Brown has ordered a Treasury investigation into whether such quizzes should be rebranded as lotteries and regulated accordingly.
MPs recently warned that contestants on phone-in TV quiz shows were at risk of being 'ripped off' by premium-rate fees and unfair questions.
Five's quizzes remain off-air after the broadcaster admitted some of its competition winners were faked.
Channel 4 has now suspended phone-in competitions in horseracing coverage during Cheltenham Week because of a problem with its phone service supplier, Eckoh.
The company, Eckoh, also provides premium-rate phone services for Richard And Judy, I'm A Celebrity and BBC1's Saturday Kitchen, which have all come under the spotlight.
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