ITV controller of drama Nick Elliott has appealed to ITV shareholders to safeguard the network's programming budget in the face of the looming recession and the downturn in advertising.

Speaking at a

ITV controller of drama Nick Elliott has appealed to ITV shareholders to safeguard the network's programming budget in the face of the looming recession and the downturn in advertising.

Speaking at a Royal Television Society event last Thursday (26 September) Elliott, who recently claimed that high-end drama such as Nicholas Nickleby could be hit as a result of the downturn in the commercial TV market (Broadcast, 31.8.01), said: 'I worry that these problems may make ITV's balance of restrained commercialism and good programming harder to achieve.'

He added: 'The balance requires money so please, please (Granada chairman) Charles Allen, (Carlton chief executive) Gerry Murphy and others, try to keep our commissioning spend growing and in touch with the BBC's increased spending. Please don't let all your new worries undermine what has worked well for so long.'

Elliott also appealed to ITV shareholders to maintain programme development funds through the downturn. 'Increa-singly we're being asked to commission programmes without a proper script to read,' he lamented.

He highlighted the BBC's failure to read the script for its£7m drama Band of Brothers as part of the reason the corporation ended up having to screen the high-profile series on BBC 2. 'I (read the script) and it was clear to me that it would not be suitable for ITV or BBC 1,' he said.

Elliott admitted he could put many of the mistakes he'd made in his career down to not reading a script. 'There are a lot of shows we pass on that end up at the BBC and each time I wait anxiously to see whether we've made a terrible mistake, but so far, if we've read the scripts, we've got it about right,' he said.