Open letter to ITV news chief

This week’s leak suggesting that Ofcom favours the retention of the Border licence has prompted an open letter to ITV’s Michael Jermey.

The letter, written by BECTU’s steward at Border, Peter Howdle, invites ITV’s Director, ITV Regions, to meet again with the joint unions to explore ways of maintaining the current service.

Earlier, BECTU and the NUJ had written to Ofcom to express their strong criticism of this Monday’s leak to the Guardian. Both unions are involved in the campaign to Save ITV News.

Open Letter to Michael Jermey

Wednesday 30 July 2008

Michael Jermey
Director, ITV Regions
ITV plc
200 Grays Inn Road
London WC1X 8HF

Dear Michael Jermey

It seems the case for saving Lookaround has gathered pace. Ofcom has received many thousands of our Save Lookaround campaign postcards. I understand it is one of the largest responses that Ofcom has ever received during a public consultation process. Ofcom has received input from every political party, at every level of politics across three countries. It has met business leaders from all walks of life from the CBI to the NHS. And the campaign continues.

The Ofcom leak as published earlier this week appears to demonstrate that Ofcom is minded to reject ITV plans to merge the Border and Tyne Tees news regions. Could it do anything else in the face of such an overwhelming response? A leak to the press can never be considered a sworn oath. However, if Ofcom does reject the ITV plan then surely this requires that the full 30 minute Lookaround programme and Border News service be maintained? I appreciate that ITV has met many of the stakeholders from this region and has offered to support 15 minutes of news dedicated to the former Border News region but this falls well short of what viewers want and Ofcom seems to agree.

It is surely right now for you to meet the local management and unions again to discuss ways to deliver a full service more cost effectively.

There is an opportunity here to embrace new technology and reconsider the operation as a whole, with the constructive aim of all of us to deliver a high quality local news service from the Border region. We believe that only limited technological investment and redeployment would be required.

ITV Border is a lean operation that achieves more with less and that has always been something of our trade mark. Our journalists, engineers and technicians are ready to embrace change and suggest solutions rather than slogans. We want this challenge and accept that this may mean a re-evaluation of the operation.

We welcome the chance to talk at your earliest convenience.

Kind regards,
Peter Howdle
BECTU Rep ITV Border.

Wednesday 30 July 2008