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Thursday, 19 February 2009

image for Bank of England sells interest rate TV rights for £3m
New ITV Saturday TV treat with Interest Rate decisions live

The Bank of England has signed a £3 million TV deal for exclusive rights for its monetary policy committee (MPC) interest rate decisions.

A revamp of the monthly rate decision will see announcements switched from the first Thursday of the month to the second Saturday and a live prime time "X Factor" style show on ITV1.

Bank governor Mervyn King said: "We are looking to revitalise monetary policy and re-engage the public with interest rate decisions. The Guvernor's Blind Rate will do this.

"Gone will be the stuffy rooms and exceedingly good cakes of Threadneedle Street and we will move to a City rooftop cocktail bar boardroom and a number of surprise regional locations at landmarks and viewers' own homes."

Sonny Joyless, executive producer of Blind Rate, explained the nine-member MPC will be slimmed down to five.

"We are looking for real characters to create drama - King will become an Alan Sugar-style Governor ruling the roost.

"Members of the public, Bank of England economists and celebrities from Heartbeat, Midsummer Murders and Emmerdale will present the arguments for a cut, hike or hold and the MPC will argue and cross examine like Dragons Den."

A separate ITV2 link in show will see members of the public competing to become a member of the MPC for a month through a phone poll and the chance to win the £100,000 monthly salary that comes with the job.

"In the final segment of the show The Governor will call the members together at a round table and give their decision Cut, Hike or Hold in turn and by how much.

"Members will get the chance to say what they really think about each other and the economy.

"We are looking for tears and bust-ups, with Kate Barker crying 'I really love and respect you Mervyn, but it has to be a cut'.

"And we will engineer it that the final deciding vote remains with the member of the public."

The show only got the go-ahead after MPC maverick David 'Danny' Blanchflower signed a seven-year golden handcuff deal worth £90 million.

"Without Danny on board the show would not have gone ahead," said ITV controller Michael Grade.

"It is a real coup for us to have one of the world's top economists signed up to ITV and we are working on a travel/gardening series for him to present as well as being the new face of Tonight with Trevor McDonald and a revamped Generation Game."

However Blanchflower's wage is already been the subject of tension within the MPC - with Sir John Gieve stating he will go to the BBC and appear in Strictly Come Dancing if his wages do not match his rival.

The Bank of England is also developing a quantitative easing series to run alongside the main rate show.

"The Quant E show will kick in when rates get to zero," stated King.

"Members of the public will compete to receive cash as it runs off The Press."

Treasury sources say Alistair Darling is "furious" about not being consulted over The Governor's Blind Rate.

"The chancellor has no control over how interest rate decisions are delivered since independence was given to the Bank," she said.

"However, the MPC must get Alistair's permission on the timing and format of quantitative easing.

"At the very least he is demanding a post of executive producer and some role on screen."

ITV is understood to be offering Darling the catchphrase 'Can you start The Printer, please' and a 2% cut of royalties from merchandising and t-shirt sales.

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