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Industry supports Lord Puttnam's call for Ofcom to regulate the BBC

LONDON - ITV and the advertising body ISBA responded favourably to today's recommendation that the BBC be regulated by new communications super watchdog Ofcom, as part of Lord Puttnam's parliamentary committee report on the new communications bill.

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ISBA welcomed the report's finding that the bill be amended to give Ofcom a remit in relation to the BBC. Ian Twinn, ISBA director of public affairs, said: "The recommendations underline the growing recognition that the BBC dominance could be abused to the detriment of the commercial sectors and that its activities need to be regulated independently."

ITV was also pleased by the recommendation, adding that quotas for the production of programmes from around the UK should also apply to BBC One and BBC Two separately.

In addition, ISBA was strongly in favour of the report's support of self-regulation of broadcast advertising.

However, the two organisations differed when it came to the subject of the creation of a single ITV.

The committee has not explicitly given its support for the creation of a single ITV. What it has done is support the government's plan to lift primary legislation and refer it to competition authorities. ISBA, however, said it had concerns about the dominance that single ownership of ITV would have on the airtime market.

Following publication of the report, ITV joint managing director Clive Jones said: "ITV broadly welcomes the recommendations contained in this report, in particular the committee's support for single ownership of ITV. This will be an important step forward if ITV is to continue to deliver to viewers high-quality programmes made all over the UK in an increasingly competitive television market."

The Department of Culture, Media and Sport has said it will look "long and hard at the committee's recommendations". However, in a statement it said: "We are still committed to the key principles of the draft bill, which represents considered government policy."

The committee also said that the government should not lift the ban preventing companies such as Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation from owning Channel 5.

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