Thursday, 31 January 2008

Stake out

A busy week for the campaign and for ITV. First came the ruling on BSkyB's stake which was greeted with warmth by the company. As the NUJ made clear..."If the intention of buying such a large stake in ITV was to neuter the broadcaster and reduce its ability to recover, then the purchase of 17.9% of the stock has been spectacularly successful; although at a cost of approx £250m only those with seriously deep pockets need apply. Today's decision, although limiting BSkyB's involvement in ITV, will not repair the fragile state of the broadcaster. ITV management still intends to make drastic cuts to its local and regional news services. We remind Ofcom that it has the power to put a stop to these disastrous cutbacks and urge it to do so."
..Other news this week: a trip to Ofcom to discuss it's annual plan found not a soul from the crucial PSB Review on the panel. What priority does Ofcom put on this piece of work for the year ahead..? Plus, you might also like to look at this story which has emerged about Border television - interesting developments indeed...

Thursday, 24 January 2008

Farewell Purnell

To Manchester for a meeting of all the ITV union reps from across the regions. We hear more tales of daring do from Border television's Save ITV News campaign. A council vote on holding a referendum on preserving local news was within a whisker of being won - it was lost because of political fears that the popularity of the cause would up turnout at the next local election, with unwanted consequences for the minority administration. There's now talk of hiring a bus to drive down to London and deliver to Ofcom the thousands of postcards returned by viewers in support of keeping Border alive. We're told the active campaigns at Border and at Westcountry are thorns in the company's side... heartening stuff.
As we are heading home we hear of Peter Hain's resignation and his replacement by Culture secretary James Purnell... Purnell's successor is named as Andy Burnham - what consequences will this shift at the top have for the campaign and the government's unfolding review of public service broadcasting?

Monday, 21 January 2008


Unhappiness among Save ITV News campaigners over Ofcom's attempts to hear what real people think of their draft plan for the year ahead... Top of Ofcom's list for the next twelve months is whether to back ITV's plans to cut regional news programmes from 17 to 9 - including merging ITV Border and Tyne Tees. Why then, our friends in the north cry, are NONE of the meetings Ofcom has scheduled to debate its plan for the year ahead in regions outside London. Visits to the nations will take place, but for the whole of England there will be just two briefings - both in London. Mysterious references to potential visits to Birmingham and Norwich have vanished without trace...Its no wonder campaigners fear regional news is not safe in Ofcom's hands...

Monday, 14 January 2008

South West TUC pulls out the stops

The South West Regional TUC has passed an emergency motion in support of the Save ITV News campaign after being briefed by activists.

Copies of the motion will be sent to MPs, Ofcom and Michael Grade. It reads:

This Regional Council is concerned at ITV's plans to halve its budget for regional and local programming: a move that would merge ITV West in Bristol with ITV Westcountry in Plymouth.

Not only would this have an adverse effect on people's right to know, giving journalists the same time (half an hour) to cover twice as much news, and not only would it provide a regional news service with no relevance to local communities, but it would also see journalists covering a region in which it takes longer to drive from one end to the other than it does from London to Carlisle.

This Regional Council also notes that as a Public Service Broadcaster, ITV is given its right to broadcast by Act of Parliament. In return it is required to fulfil special obligations. If ITV's proposals go ahead, these commitments will not be met. "

At the meeting on Saturday the council resolved to write to South West MPs and Ofcom to express concern and urge them to support the NUJ's campaign. The council also agreed to write to Michael Grade asking him to stop the cuts.

We warmly welcome the support of the regional TUC and thank them for their efforts. We would also ask other regional councils to follow in their footsteps and debate the demolition of ITV local and regional news before its too late.

Wednesday, 9 January 2008

Book now!

Ofcom is reaching out to one and all by organising a series of meetings on its draft plan for this year and next. Obviously on its agenda for the next few months is the Public Service Broadcasting review and ITV's plans for local and regional news. It would be churlish to refuse this opportunity to get your voice heard on these key issues. Have you booked your place yet? If not click here ...

Thursday, 3 January 2008

Happy New Year

Our campaign to Save ITV News must take centre stage in 2008. With Ofcom set to hold a series of roadshows as part of its Public Service Broadcasting review it's time to let the regulator hear the message that regional news is too important to lose. As the New Year dawns the campaign is gracing the front page of the new NUJ website. Let's keep it in the headlines as we enter a critical phase in our fight. Happy New Year.