Head of news at Channel 4 Dorothy Byrne has guaranteed that the channel will continue producing its flagship news programme even without ITN.
A huge question-mark currently hangs over the funding of all public service broadcasting outside the BBC. Channel 4 News, the channel’s flagship daily 7pm bulletin, is currently produced by ITN which also produces national news for ITV.
Byrne made her comments in response to a question about the future and profitability of Channel 4 News at the Westminster University Journalism in Crisis conference.
She said: “Channel 4 News loses money, that’s what it does. But what does Channel 4 News bring to Channel 4?
“It’s the soul and the centre of what Channel 4 is about. So as long as Channel 4 exists, there at the heart of it will be Channel 4 News and we will find a way whatever happens of making very high quality news.
“I love ITN as an organisation, but let’s be frank. If there wasn’t ITV News and there wasn’t ITN we can still make really good quality news. I’ve looked into that and examined it and I’m absolutely 100 per cent sure we can do that.”
Earlier this week there were reports that Channel 4’s News at Noon and More4News programmes could be axed completely as part of a drive to cut budgets by 10 per cent.
But Byrne denied that any specific cost-cutting plans were yet in place.
She said: “There are going to be financial savings, that’s a fact. But what they will be I don’t know because we haven’t decided yet. We have asked ITN to come up with proposals.”
Byrne said she had told ITN that the flagship 7pm news broadcast and the news website were Channel 4’s priorities.
But she added: “That doesn’t mean we have made any decision – in all honesty we haven’t.”
Byrne and BBC director of news Helen Boaden both told the conference that they would not have paid for the stolen computer data which the Daily Telegraph’s MPs expenses scoop is believed to have been based on.
Byrne said: “As a public service broadcaster we could not have bought that, it’s just not possible.”
And Boaden said: “Paying for stolen material is quite difficult if you are a public service broadcaster.”