The verdicts are in on Ofcom’s second public service broadcasting review, which gives ITV the go ahead to cut its regional news programming to save money.
Broadcasting union BECTU has criticised the move for ‘betraying regional news audiences’ and causing 100s of jobs losses.
“OFCOM’s decision to give ITV the go ahead to cut regional news services by half, is further evidence, says BECTU, of the regulator dancing to the tune of ITV and its shareholders,” said the union in a press statement.
The National Union for Journalists (NUJ) has also raised concerns over the decision, describing it as a sign of Ofcom’s failure to stand up for the public interest.
“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,” reads a post on the union’s Save The ITV News campaign blog.
Both the unions claim research conducted by the regulator, and announced in a release accompanying the review, contradicts the ITV decision. The key findings of the research, according to Ofcom, suggested that:
- 9 out of 10 people do not want the BBC to be the only provider of public service content in the future
- a majority of people want ITV1 to continue to provide regions and nations news to complement the BBC
According to a report by MediaGuardian, 500 jobs could be cut from the broadcaster’s regional news operations as part of the changes.
paidContent:UK dissects the review on a different level flagging up the regulator’s calls for more links to public service content on websites.
“This might include new online tools that help people ‘bump into’ new websites which otherwise they might not have found, along the lines of stumbleupon.com or last.fm, with a public service perspective,” the review says.
Today’s review will be subject to a consultation period, ending on December 4, the results of which will be published in early 2009.