British Comedy Awards move from ITV1 to C4

The British Comedy Awards is moving to Channel 4 after 20 years on ITV.

Channel 4 said it was ‘delighted’ to have secured exclusive broadcast rights to the annual extravaganza in a three-year deal.

But it is not yet known whether long-time host Jonathan Ross will continue to front the ceremony.

A spokesman for British Comedy Awards owners Unique Television said a host for the December event was yet to be finalised. But he added: “We’re huge fans of Jonathan.”

Organisers expect to confirm a host soon.

Channel 4 promised to bring the ceremony ‘bang up to date, reinvigorating the brand and reverting to a live broadcast, injecting spontaneity, excitement and edge into the new-look awards show’.

The ceremony has hit the headlines for controversies over the years, with notable incidents including Ross’s quip that he was worth ‘1,000 BBC journalists’. Ross was temporarily replaced by Angus Deayton following the Sachsgate row, but later returned to front the ceremony.

In 2007 ITV suspended broadcasting of the event for that year while phone-voting problems were looked into. Last year Ofcom imposed fines totalling £80,000 relating to a scandal that led to Ant and Dec being wrongly given a prize at the awards.

The regulator imposed the penalty on Channel TV – which was supposed to ensure the programme met broadcasting rules when it aired on ITV1 – for what it called ‘extremely serious’ breaches.

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