Ofcom will not be swayed by ITV's attempts to “paint an apocalyptic scenario” about its future, the regulator's chief executive Ed Richards has warned.

Speaking to the Royal Television Society, Richards said that he respected ITV's right to highlight the “excessive burden” or regulatory obligations and to claim that reform was slow. But he added: “Our job is not to be swayed by a bit of PR here and there, but to subject the numbers and projections to careful scrutiny and take an independent and objective view.”

Richards said he was surprised that Peter Fincham used this year's MacTaggart lecture to suggest that the PSB debate downplayed the role of entertainment television.

Dismissing Fincham's comments as a missed opportunity that was “more light entertainment than spiritual factual”, Richards said:

“At least we now understand the root of ITV's current woes. It's not the recession or PSB obligations or CRR at all. It's that they do in fact have a cupboard full of peak time entertainment hits, but a shadowy figure somewhere in the bowels of Ofcom is secretly controlling the schedule and putting World In Action on instead.”

Richards said he would spell out some short-term proposals for ITV's future next week, when Ofcom publishes phase two of its PSB review.

“Whatever our decision on these specific proposals, overall the costs of holding a PSB licence will outweigh the benefits for most Channel 3 licensees well before switchover is complete and in some cases imminently,” he said.

“As things stand, ITV can credibly contemplate handing its licence back, the businesses in the nations face similar pressure and C4 must examine its cash reserves and make cuts to programme budgets to meet its fiduciary duty.”

Richards also defended two of the three models now put forward by Ofcom, which would encourage competition for commercial broadcasters pitching for PSB funds.

“People always infer bureaucracy, second guessing and the legendary, or more accurately, mythical ‘arts council of the air' - imagining a group of well meaning geriatrics picking shows for the Saturday night schedule hunched over a cup of camomile tea,” he said. “But that wouldn't by very sensible would it?”

One of the models would involve C4 pitching alongside ITV and Five for some substantial ongoing contracts.

Such a model would, he said, have “clear objectives set in terms of public service need, reach and impact with target audiences not via pre-specified forms of content or distribution but with scope to innovate and deliver an impact in different ways.

“It would probably not be suitable for some genres or types of programming. But for others, where clear objectives can be set in advance - news in the nations for example - it offers the prospect of an alternative model which may provide a more flexible means to take advantage of new cross-media digital opportunities.

Ofcom will publish the second phase of its PSB review on 25 September, and will invite responses from all interested parties.