ITV Anglia news shake-up criticised
Lorna Marsh A planned shake up of Anglia Television news services was last night criticised for falling “well short” of audience demand.
By LORNA MARSH
A planned shake-up of Anglia Television news was last night criticised for falling "well short" of the service viewers deserve.
Job cuts will result from revised proposals which will see separate east and west bulletins for the region replaced in favour of coverage for the whole of Anglia - a total of 10 counties - and some recorded segments be used instead of live broadcasts.
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ITV nationally announced in September that it planned to slash its £120m regional programming budget by a third to boost in-house programme production.
It wanted to cut 17 regional news bulletins to nine, a move which unions said would lead to hundreds of job losses.
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Yesterday, following consultation, the broadcasters proposed 18 sub-regional services under the nine news regions, of which Anglia is one. But the plans mean that for the most part bulletins will be Anglia-wide and an unspecified number of job cuts would still arise.
Currently combined bulletins taking in both the east region of Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex, and the west region of Northamptonshire, Cambridgeshire, Buckinghamshire, Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire, Lincolnshire and Leicestershire are only broadcast at weekends, with separate east and west programmes during the week.
Under the new proposals, however, only six minutes of content in the 6pm programme and nine minutes of the post-News at Ten bulletin, which will be recorded shortly before it goes on air, will be sub-regional.
Gerry Morrissey, general secretary of the Broadcasting Entertainment Cinematograph and Theatre Union, said: "This proposal is unworkable and falls well short. They haven't attached any money to it. The proposal is predominantly still based on ITV significantly reducing its regional news output.
"What is being offered is significantly less than what's currently available."
One member of Anglia staff, who did not want to be identified, said decreased local content would mean an inferior service for viewers and expressed concern at the loss of the late live broadcast.
"News is the one programme viewers expect to be live and with recent concerns about TV fakery etc, viewers won't necessarily be aware they are watching pre-recorded news."
David Jennings, head of news at ITV Anglia, said: "These revised proposals are a result of a thorough consultation process with a wide range of people. We believe they will enable us to continue to offer viewers across the Anglia region an excellent, truly local service."
ITV said it does not plan to reduce the £40m cuts it is making to the bulletins.
Director of ITV Regions Michael Jermey said: "We believe we have a solution that offers viewers more of what they have told us they want, and preserves the best of ITV's tradition of quality, well-resourced production and journalism."
The proposals are subject to approval by regulator Ofcom.