The media regulator, Ofcom, has hit back at claims by the National Union of Journalists that it has “set in train the destruction” of ITV regional news.
Speaking at a press conference in London this morning, Ofcom’s partner for content and standards, Stewart Purvis, accused the union of making a “snap judgement” in denouncing the regulator’s plans for the future of public service broadcasting.
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Ofcom announced this morning that it broadly supported ITV’s proposals to merge some of its regional news operations and cut the number of bulletins produced.
Purvis said: “The trade union representatives are quite rightly doing their job, trying to protect their members’ interests.
“I hope when they’ve had the chance to read the document in full – and understand that the area they care about we care about – they’ll be slightly reassured about our intentions.
“The snap judgement they’ve come to I totally understand based on the info they’ve had until now. But from today onwards there should be no doubt about the importance we attach [to news].”
Earlier today, the NUJ general secretary Jeremy Dear criticised what he said was Ofcom’s “soft-touch approach”, and accused it of “failing in its duty to strengthen public service broadcasting”.
Bectu senior official Luke Crawley said viewers in the Border TV region would not tolerate “12 or 15 minutes [of news] made by a bunch of Geordies” in the Tyne Tees region.
“It’s really not acceptable to say you’ve answered the question of quality local news,” he said.
Purvis added that it a reduction in ITV’s regional news requirements did not necessarily mean it would provide the bare minimum. He also said it was up to ITV itself how it put the proposed new structure into place.
“Whether they want to put three cameramen in Yeovil or one, that’s a decision for ITV. It must be a matter for them. They don’t have to notify us about that,” he added.