Robert Hampton

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27th December 2009

Posted by at 5.03pm | No responses | Television

The BBC had nine of the top 10 shows on Christmas Day, according to the ratings people. The only ITV1 show to make the list was Coronation Street.

Many criticise ITV1 for not making much of an effort at Christmas. This ignores the fact that ITV1 is a commercial channel which makes its money from advertising, and the advertisers don’t want to spend money on Christmas Day when there are no shops open. The big spend from advertisers comes before Christmas, hence ITV1 devoting its energies in November and December.

It’s an argument which isn’t mentioned much when the licence fee is debated, but it’s one which should be considered: strip the BBC of its guaranteed funding and force it to rely on advertising income, and you’ll see an equally unimaginative schedule on BBC1 on December 25 in future years.

Just look at what happens in America, where the Christmas specials usually go out in the first week of December. On the day itself a load of old films and repeats are usually served up by the big networks.

Would it be the end of the world if Christmas Day ceased to be a big family-around-the-TV day? Probably not, but you can guarantee that those who howl loudest about the licence fee (the Daily Mail and its ilk) would also be the first to complain about the dire Christmas schedules that would result.

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