Monday, 27 October 2008

Meeting Ofcom

A whirl of meetings involving Ofcom over the last few days. First at the Federation of Entertainment Unions event at Westminster last week which heard an impassioned plea from actor Tony Robinson about why Public Service Broadcasting matters. Today back to Riverside House to argue again that the regulatory asset of spectrum should be used to indirectly fund regional news and non news programming for the future. Tomorrow to Bristol for a day long summit on the nations and regions and the future of PSB. We're making the points.. let's hope Ofcom is listening..

Thursday, 25 September 2008

Dark day for ITV

When Gordon Brown made his speech to the Labour party faithful this week he gave a list of decisions made by the government which he argued had made life better for people; 'Not by accident, but by our actions' he said. In a few years time if there is no local and regional TV news except on the BBC Ofcom will be forced to reflect that it is not by accident but by their actions, starting today. The release of the next phase of the PSB review is unmitigated bad news for the thousands of people who have written to Ofcom urging them to hold ITV to their public service obligations. Ofcom has wholeheartedly ignored the petitions, the postcards and the politicians and said 'yes' to ITV's wish list of cuts. Today's announcement signals a regulator that has failed in its remit and is intent on presiding over the decline and eventual death of local and regional news on the ITV network. All in all a dismal day for supporters of plurality and quality regional programming. We must not be downcast however. Those who oppose these plans must rally together to help ITV members in their fight against these cuts.

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

Summer of no love lost

Its been a torrid summer for ITV regional news employees. A massive response to our postcard and email campaign targeted at Ofcom has been great but to date Ofcom does not appear to be listening. A leak earlier this month, published by the Guardian, suggested the regulator was paying closer attention to bosses at ITV than those who actually watch and appreciate their news programmes around the country. MPs are conveniently still away on their summer break so its largly gone quiet on the PSB Review front - let's hope they can get mobilised again come the Autumn. Meanwhile staff are facing the prospect of ITV pushing ahead with its proposals regardless of Ofcom's verdict. Re-jigged plans released on the back of the leak still save the same amount of money - £35-40 million - from the local and regional news budgets. Viewers and staff are still asking how quality can be maintained at such a cut price rate...

Wednesday, 4 June 2008

Ofcom looks the other way

ITV may be 'washing its face' to quote Michael Grade with its proposals over slashing local and regional news, but Ofcom is washing its hands of the affair. While the company continues to make changes which assume they will be given the green light on their proposals to cut local and regional services from 17 to 9, Ofcom is doing precisely nothing about it. Ofcom say they can only be concerned about 'outputs' not 'inputs' while ITV gears up to cut hundreds of jobs and tells its journalists that picking up video cameras is the future. At a meeting with Ofcom today it was confirmed that they will not act to stop ITV carrying on as though their plans have already been agreed. You have to ask, who is in charge in this process? Is it the regulator or is it ITV?

Wednesday, 7 May 2008

Ofcom PSB responses sign now

As part of our campaign to save news on itv we launched a website which allows for people to send a model response to the regulator. This can be found here . The NUJ sent the link out to our forty thousand members today. It is hoped the Ofcom postbag will get a bit full.

Wednesday, 30 April 2008

More support

Support continues to grow for our fight against the ITV plans.
We've just had the following from the leader of Eastbourne council, who also sits on East Sussex County Council-

I have put a "Notice of Motion" to the Borough Council for consideration when they meet this evening. It reads as follows:

"That Eastbourne Borough Council notes with concern the current proposals to merge the three Meridian news services into one from the start of 2009. The Council believes that in future this will lead to local people being less well informed of local issues. The Council therefore resolves to make representations to Ofcom opposing these plans and urging them to reject the proposals."
I am confident that this will be passed. "

I have also submitted a similar motion to East Sussex County Council for consideration

Friday, 25 April 2008

Across the Border

An intrepid group from our Save ITV News campaign at Border Television has headed south to London to bring their case direct to Ofcom. The group presented the regulator with thousands of postcards from loyal viewers and supporters who don't want to see their programme 'Lookaround' axed. The team, made up of local reps and MPs from the area, played a DVD to highlight the special place the show holds in the community. They asked Ofcom to take the views of the thousands of people who'd returned postcards into account in deciding whether to agree ITV's proposals which would mean the end of their service. Ofcom were in listening mode - we wait to see whether they act.