Ofcom's “box-ticking” PSB review could kill televison by sidelining entertainment, Peter Fincham has warned in the 2008 MacTaggart Memorial Lecture.

ITV's director of television took aim at the regulator in a speech designed to champion TV as a medium for popular shows that entertain viewers.

Click here to read the full speech

He told the Media Guardian Edinburgh International Television Festival that Ofcom's vision of the future of PSB was “television as social engineering”.

“Television is a creative medium; it needs to be free to be creative; its unique power lies in its popularity; and although I have great respect for those who regulate it, the medicine they are ministering may be as likely to kill as cure it,” Fincham said.

He criticized Ofcom's four definitions of PSB and said if they were applied, TV would have to “scrap Saturday nights completely”.

“Drama's out and comedy too. No role for sport - the Champions League final, Euro 2008 and the Olympics. The 14 million people who tuned in to the final of Britain's Got Talent weren't there to be entertained but to watch TV promote understanding of religions, cultures and lifestyles.”

He also distanced ITV from the prospect of handing back its PSB licence and third slot on the terrestrial spectrum.

“From ITV's point of view, there's a simple answer: hand back the licence, stop being a PSB altogether. Yes, we could do that. Television could be split down the middle, like the medieval church. The BBC and Channel 4, chastened by public money, beholden to regulators and politicians, take the high road. The rest of us go the other way.

“Do we really want that? I hope not. Television's at its best when high and low intertwine.”