Grade: regional news is ITV's 'undervalued asset'

ITV chair Michael Grade has reiterated the broadcaster's commitment to regional news, calling it an "undervalued asset".

Speaking at the Voice of the Listener and Viewer conference in London this morning, Grade said: "Post digital switchover, everyone is looking for points of distinction; for ITV this means investing in original programming but also that regional connection with news."

Grade called ITV's regional news "a huge USP" and "an asset that distinguishes us from other sevices."

But he added the question was how much ITV could invest as a commercial broadcaster.

Former ITN chief Stewart Purvis, chairing this section of the conference, said that previous ITV chiefs had seen regional news as "a problem ITV should get rid of" but asked Grade if he wanted PSP (public service provider) funds in return for delivering regional news.

Grade said: "I'm not a great advocate of the private sector getting access to public money. There are always strings attached."

NUJ broadcasting representative Paul McLoughlin welcomed Grade's comments but asked where the funding might come from for future regional news output. Grade said he hoped primarily that ITV would "help ourselves by driving business in the regions" through advertising.

Grade said he ws looking at the ITV1 schedule "as a whole" but declined to clarify if this would include reinstating ITV 10 O'Clock news.

Photo: Reuters 

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