MPs support union call for Act review

Central and Meridian journalists lobbied MPs

The NUJ has won support from MPs for its proposal that the Communications Act to be reviewed.

The union believes Ofcom is not fulfilling its responsibilities as broadcast regulator in the wake of plans for the closure of ITV regional newsrooms at Meridian and Central.

In addition to its campaign against ITV and Ofcom, the NUJ, Bectu and Amicus are looking to apply pressure on ministers in a bid to have the 2003 Communications Act reviewed. Ofcom was formed as a result of the act.

The NUJ also wants an investigation into whether ITV has breached its licensing agreement with the proposed relocation of its news operations.

Following a lobby meeting of Central and Meridian journalists at the House of Commons on Tuesday, Pat West, NUJ Father of Chapel at Central Nottingham, said: “We want to see the Communications Act reviewed because we don’t believe it is working. It will be too late if you use Ofcom’s yardstick because it will wait until it sees what’s happening on screen. It will be too late by then because jobs and the programmes will have been lost.”

He added that ministers had stated they were “very uncomfortable” about Ofcom distancing itself from the closures and job losses at ITV so soon after the Granada-Carlton merger and the formulation of the Communications Act.

Southampton Itchen MP John Denham said there was uncertainty about how far Ofcom could criticise ITV, “but if it saw things happening that weren’t in the best interests of regional broadcasting, it should come out and say so”, even if its powers to enforce action were limited.

By Wale Azeez

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