Dyke's ITV takeover puts journalists' lot in the spotlight

By Caitlin Pike

Journalists in ITV news rooms across England and Wales could go on strike as early as the beginning of April after voting in favour of industrial action.

The strike vote comes as former BBC director general Greg Dyke continues his bid to take control of the company at the head of a venture capital consortium.

Journalists claim that pay rises are due to them after months of taking on extra responsibility as a result of new editing technology. A total of 61 per cent of members at ITV turned out for the ballot, and 58 per cent voted in favour of industrial action.

NUJ representatives were due to meet on Thursday in London to discuss how and when action will be taken.

The earliest date that possible strikes, or other action, will take place is 8 April.

ITV journalists say they are aggravated by the proposed £1.5 billion that would be made available to shareholders if Dyke’s takeover bid is successful.

NUJ national broadcasting organiserPaul Mclaughlin said: "Members are very concerned by the figures that have been proposed as part of a takeover bid when they have been taking on added responsibility and using new skills without any recognition from management.

The injustice needs to be addressed."

Dyke’s consortium is preparing a second bid for 48 per cent of the company after the first was rejected by the ITV board last week. A successful takeover would result in Dyke ousting Charles Allen as chief executive.

Dyke claims he will increase profitability of the company by improving the effectiveness of programme spending.

As director general of the BBC from 2000 to 2004, Dyke brought in changes under which more of the BBC’s income was spent on programmes and services for audiences, and less on running the organisation.

Dyke started his broadcasting career in 1977 at London Weekend Television. In 1995, after the Granada takeover of LWT — led by rival Charles Allen — Dyke joined Pearson Television as chief executive. During his time in the post, from 1995 to 1999, he built it into the largest non-US independent production company in the world. He also guided the consortium which created Five and became its first chairman.

Dyke is believed to have approached former senior colleagues at the BBC, including former head of BBC Sport Peter Salmon, to join him at ITV.

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