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Which channel won the ratings war in 2001

01:00 Mon 07th Jan 2002 |

A.� Unofficial figures show that BBC1 was ahead of ITV for the first time in 46 years. BBC1 drew a 26.8 per cent share of the viewing audience, compared with ITV's 26.7 per cent. During 2000 ITV was around two per cent of its main rival, and in 1999, it was at least three per cent ahead. The figures are compiled by the Broadcasters Audience Research Board.

Q.� Why has the BBC done so well

A.� The corporation ploughed more than �99 million into its flagship channel last year. Its success is largely due to populist hits such as The Weakest Link and a fourth Friday night episode of EastEnders. Ulrika Jonsson's Dog Eat Dog show, aired on a Saturday night, has been a success and moving the news from its 9pm to 10pm slot is thought to have contributed to the ratings lead. Director-General of the BBC, Greg Dyke, increased the BBC budget from �823 million to �922 million last year.

Other hits BBC1 came up with last year include The Blue Planet, the most expensive nature programme ever made by the BBC, which attracted more than nine million viewers; Linda Green, which stars Lisa Tarbuck as a single thirtysomething; Walking With Beasts, made using the technology which created Walking With Dinosaurs; and My Family, a sitcom starring Zoe Wanamaker and Robert Lindsay.

Q.� What about ITV

A.� Falling advertising revenues and worries about recession are thouht to have hit the commercial station. The station was badly hit when the high profile The Premiership, with Des Lynam, failed to attract viewers to its Saturday evening slot. The channel was forced to move the show in November after pressure from advertisers. The much-heralded Survivor programme hoped to attract 12 million viewers, but in the end, only drew around four million. By the time contestant Charlotte Hobrough won �1 million, it had been reduced to one show a week. ITV was also dealt a blow when it lost the This Morning duo Richard and Judy to Channel 4. Crossroads was relaunched in March but has so far failed to win over a real audience, even Coronation Street has been beaten by EastEnders, which produced major storylines such as Who Shot Phil Mitchell ITV will be placing much on the soaraway success of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire , which was such an enormous success in 1999 and 2000.

ITV says the figures showed it was still ahead during the peaktime evening viewing. The BBC places much more emphasis on a Christmas season than ITV, as advertisers are thought ot be less keen to reach viewers who have done their spending by the time they settle down to watch television.

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By Katharine MacColl

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