ITV has scaled back its commissioning needs because it is "overstocked" with programmes, according to outgoing executive chairman Michael Grade.
Speaking at today's Voice of the Listener and Viewer conference, Grade said there was "an issue" with good programmes sitting on the shelf for too long before they went to air.
"Because of the lead times of programmes, someone walking in with an idea then actually delivering the film can – or these days with a digital chip – can sometimes be three years, and then, according to our needs, we may not transmit it for another year beyond that.
"So we end up with a very healthy stock position. We are overstocked at the moment given the economic climate. We do need to reduce the amount of content that we carry."
ITV is currently believed to have in excess of £10m worth of dramas waiting to be aired, including Jilly Cooper's Octavia (Touchpaper Television); Whatever It Takes, a 90-minute single starring Shane Ritchie and written by Paula Milne (Twenty Twenty Television); the 7 x 60-minute workplace drama Monday Monday (Talkback Thames); and Andrew Davies' adaptation of Joanna Briscoe's Sleep with Me (Clerkenwell Films.
Grade said: "All the programmes that we make will be transmitted. They are too valuable and they are too good to be left on the shelf, but we do need to reduce our stock."
Production on long running dramas Heartbeat and The Royal has also been rested until at least 2010 to clear a backlog of episodes yet to be aired.
How the hell does this happen??
I'm an outsider. I don't work for ITV, I'm not an independent production company, I'm not a mover or shaker of any description! So it's not for me to throw around accusations as to who is to blame for this shambolic situation. But what I do know is that it is extremely sad and disrespectful to everyone who worked very hard on those shows that are now sitting there pretending to be paper weights.
You must know what you have on your shelf. And you must have had some idea when you were ordering new 'stock.' We go grocery shopping once a week. The night before we (and by we I mean the missus,) looks through the cupboards, thinks about what meals she wants to make in the coming week, and buys accordingly. We don't just go out and get seventeen tomatoes even though we already have eleven in the fridge. There are seven days in the week, seven meals to be had. We don't make fourteen meals cos that would mean we have to eat two a night or half are going in the bin, money wasted. I mean it's not rocket science. ITV must know what their slots are for drama, comedy, making celebrities and members of the public look even more stupid than they are, documentaries etc. Can someone please get a hold of it so money is not being thrown away on shows that are not aired, or worse, fees not being paid to people because that was the make up of the deal, or that now, because of this backlog, no one can actually work.
It's basic housekeeping.