Belfast Telegraph

Channels step back from TV clash

Rival TV bosses have stepped back from a major clash for flagship Saturday night shows The Voice and Britain's Got Talent when they air on the same night.

The two programmes, which both begin on March 24, will now go head-to-head for just 20 minutes - half an hour less than had been feared.

As BBC One and ITV1 schedulers played a lengthy game of cat and mouse, their final line-up showed the programmes will start an hour apart.

The launches have been a source of tension since it emerged that both channels were starting their shows on the same night.

BBC bosses accused ITV of trying to sabotage the debut of their new series as BGT normally launched around three weeks later in the year.

But ITV claimed that a clash was foreseeable if the BBC opted to launch a Saturday evening series in the spring.

It looked as if the two shows were likely to overlap by 50 minutes when the channels unveiled their draft line-ups. But as they confirmed their final schedules, ITV had put the launch of its 75-minute show back by half an hour to 8pm, while The Voice will run from 7pm to 8.20pm.

An ITV source said 8pm was on a par with the start time for BGT in recent years.

And the source said of their BBC rivals: "They could have played it somewhere else which could have avoided this situation, but they chose to park their tanks on our lawn."

But a BBC insider said: "The BBC had always sought to avoid a clash and it's good for the audience of both shows that ITV finally saw sense."

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