PSB Review betrays viewers

BECTU has accused Ofcom and ITV of betraying regional audiences after the regulator gave the go-ahead to massive cuts in services.

Ofcom’s decision, announced today, to endorse ITV’s proposals to halve its regional news output from 2009 to save £40million, has been widely condemned.

BECTU issued the following press release.

Press Release
For Immediate Use

Thursday 25 September 2008

Ofcom and ITV collude yet again to deprive UK audience

Media and entertainment union, BECTU, has today slammed Ofcom and ITV for their collusion in plans which will see regional news services cut and 100s of jobs lost.

Ofcom’s decision to give ITV the go ahead to cut regional news services by half, is further evidence, says BECTU, of the regulator dancing to the tune of ITV and its shareholders.

“Ofcom’s statutory responsibility is to viewers and today’s announcement confirms, once again, that the regulator is failing to serve them.” commented BECTU’s General Secretary, Gerry Morrissey.

The regulator’s own research confirms that UK viewers want public service broadcasting to be provided by more than one source and yet Ofcom is willing to allow ITV to further, and dramatically, reduce is public service output.

“Today’s decision by Ofcom is an abdication of its duties; Ofcom has no credibility when it calls drastic cuts an investment in the sustainability of PSB. The fact is that everyone regards Ofcom’s consultation as a sham.” Gerry Morrissey continued.

ITV plc and its predecessors have made billions out of their licences to broadcast; ITV plc has made a commitment to provide PSB and the company should be held to that committment, says BECTU. In fact, Ofcom promised when it concluded its first PSB review in 2005, that it would make no further concessions to ITV inside this licence period.

Today’s announcement puts hundreds of broadcasting jobs at risk; BECTU will oppose compulsory redundancies and will ballot its members for strike action if ITV insists on forcing people out the door. BECTU is confident that local communities and politicians will support our continuing endeavours to save regional news.

“ITV’s proposals will wreck their own output and future services will be far less meaningful to audiences. How can a service which covers the area from Penzance to Tewkesbury be considered local? How can you pretend to be offering something valuable to the Border audience, whose region stretches from Dumfries to Yorkshire, in 15 minutes a day?

“These proposals mark the beginning of closure on ITV’s strong record as a regional broadcaster.” said BECTU.

Ends

For more information contact:

BECTU’s press office and Sharon Elliott, BECTU’s Communications Officer, on 020 7346 0900 or by email to selliott@bectu.org.uk

Thursday 25 September 2008