7 May 2009
BECTU has asked how much longer ITV can claim to be a public service broadcaster, following yesterday's announcement that the South Bank Show is to be axed next year.
There is an audience for the SBS and there are many other skilled and talented individuals who still have much to contribute to the strand.
The news, says BECTU, is just the latest stage in the broadcaster's consistent and continued divestment of its public service output over the past decade.
Insiders have long questioned whether ITV's commitment to the South Bank Show would outlast Melvyn Bragg's stewardship.
"It appears that ITV is taking huge advantage of Melvyn Bragg's decision to retire," commented BECTU's supervisory official, David Beevers.
"Whilst it is right that the company should pay tribute to Lord Bragg, the company is forgetting two critical aspects. There is an audience for the SBS and there are many other skilled and talented individuals who still have much to contribute to the strand."
"BECTU members and staff within the Specialist Factual and Arts department, several of whom are employed directly by the award-winning show, now face an uncertain future."
"The news comes on top of more than 400 job losses in regional news in February this year, followed by a proposal in March to axe a further 600 posts."
"During the past decade, ITV has made headlines by dumbing down its content, emptying the schedules of arts and religious programming and children's, factual and news output, all of which entitled ITV to wear its public service broadcaster badge with pride."
"Without an honest and continued commitment to public service broadcasting, the industry has to seriously question ITV's status as a recognised provider of challenging and quality content," David Beevers concluded.