ITV fate the focus at Edinburgh

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The future of ITV dominated debate at the MediaGuardian Edinburgh International Television Festival, which wound down Sunday.

During a panel discussion, ITV managing director Rupert Howell said the broadcaster would have to consider handing back its broadcast license if its quotas on regional programming were not cut back.

ITV also is waiting to hear from media regulator Ofcom as to whether the broadcaster can change the tariffs it charges for commercial airtime.

"ITV's public-service obligations need to be tapered from next year," Howell said. "If the gulf between the cost and benefit of holding these broadcast licenses widens, then (license) handback becomes inevitable."

He warned, though, that such action — which would make ITV relaunch purely as a commercial channel — would mean viewers would lose out.

"ITV is running up the down escalator," said David Elstein, chairman of Sparrowhawk Media and a former CEO of Five. "Blaming the regulator is a very old game. ITV's bigger problem is that they have no strategy to diversify revenue streams."(partialdiff)
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