ITV staff made to sweat it out

Speculation about ITV’s imminent announcement on the company’s 2008 performance and its impact on jobs is continuing.

On 17 February, ITV’s Chief Operating Officer, John Cresswell, wrote to all staff to tell them that a significant announcement about the company’s plans for 2009 would be made on 4 March.

Picture of ITV Headquarters

ITV Headquarters at Gray’s Inn Road (Picture: Tony Scott)

BECTU’s union journal, Stage Screen and Radio, led on the current malaise affecting ITV in its February/March issue: page 1 [1.6M pdf], page 2 [2.6M pdf].

Since the company started to talk about the prospects for bad news, certain media have stated that 500 jobs cuts are to be announced; today, other parties are speculating that the planned job losses could be far greater.

ITV’s performance has been dogged by controversy since the merged company took off in 2003.

Current Executive Chairman, Michael Grade, was heralded as the saviour of ITV’s programming reputation when he arrived in February 2007. Shareholders had finally ousted, long-standing Chief Executive, Charles Allen, the previous summer.

However, Michael Grade’s performance has been a bitter disappointment to ITV staff and to the industry. Broken promises over regional news led, earlier this month, to the further loss of more than 400 jobs from the news division, despite a strong campaign by local communities, the joint unions and MPs.

Despite these further cuts, which are set to save up to £40 million a year, ITV’s determination to dump its public service responsibilities continues apace.

On the 17 February, John Cresswell told staff: “I want to assure you that no announcements have been made by ITV and as we are in a close period ahead of results we will not be commenting on, confirming or denying any plans before March 4.

“Please be assured that we are still on course to tell you all on that date what steps we are taking to address the need for greater efficiency in ITV.”

Yesterday, it was confirmed that ITV has proposed the setting up of a super company through a merger with Channels 4 and 5.

Thursday 26 February 2009