Michael Grade: 'ITV won't pay for regional news'

ITV executive chairman Michael Grade today guaranteed that the national news service provided by ITN would continue – but warned that regional news would only have a future if public subsidy was found elsewhere.

And he admitted to parliament that he had never seen such a dramatic and profound effect on advertising during his long career in broadcasting than was happening as a result of the current recession.

But Grade also told the House of Lords communications committee: “We will survive and we will be in a fitter state when the economy recovers.”

He said ITV was hoping media regulator Ofcom would respond to its representations by relieving the broadcaster of some of its regulatory obligations such as providing regional news.

Challenged by peers about whether there will be room for news on ITV in future, Grade said: “We want to provide the ITN service as a business priority for us.”

But he said that while the broadcaster was prepared to provide airtime for regional news, “money will have to come from somewhere to pay for it, we cannot afford to do that”.

He said that sharing facilities with the BBC, something both broadcasters were discussing, was no substitute for the proposals made by Ofcom for regional news to be delvered by consortia which would compete for public funds.

“You can bring in regional newspapers, that is what they want,” Grade said.

He said of regional news: “There is no other pot of money to provide it.”

Grade said if no money was provided the BBC would be given a monopoly on regional broadcast news.

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