UTV cuts discussed in Assembly
Public service broadcasting in Northern Ireland is under threat, BECTU has told politicians at Stormont today.
The threat arises from UTV’s premature and unjustified assault on it own workforce.
When Ofcom proposed in September to allow the broadcaster to reduce it news and current affairs output, UTV responded by announcing a major restructure of its programme division.
Thirty five production jobs are at risk - almost a third of the company’s staff. BECTU is in no doubt that this level of cuts will damage the quality of UTV programming.
BECTU’s Assistant General Secretary, Luke Crawley, and National Official, Pat Styles, took part today in a presentation to representatives on the Northern Ireland Assembly’s Culture, Arts and Leisure Committee.
“The campaign has attracted support from many quarters in Northern Ireland. This demonstrates the value which people place on UTV’s output and the clear opposition to cuts which will damage the service to viewers.”
BECTU is working with the NUJ to challenge UTV’s proposals and to impress upon the people of Northern Ireland that the diversity of programme output which they currently enjoy is being severely undermined.
Today’s debate was well-attended by programme makers and members of the public.
Last week, a joint statement from the leaders of six of the province’s political parties urged UTV to reassess its plans and to think seriously about the valuable role which UTV and its output have played in local democracy.
This support is being boosted on a daily basis as MLAs respond to their constituents’ concerns with messages of encouragement. A campaign website has been set up at www.saveutv.info [update - was link to website now closed due to resolution of dispute] to help to put people in touch with their representatives.
Commenting on the campaign BECTU National Official, Patrick Styles, said: “The campaign has attracted support from many quarters in Northern Ireland. This demonstrates the value which people place on UTV’s output and the clear opposition to cuts which will damage the service to viewers.”
Thursday 20 November 2008