Plans to go digital spark ITV job fears

ITV chiefs this week raised fears that more journalist jobs are under threat by warning that “some news programmes”

would no longer be viable when they switch to digital television in three years.

Charles
Allen, chief executive of ITV, and Clive Jones, chief executive of ITV
news, said the broadcaster would lose out on the indirect subsidy it
receives through the allocation of analogue spectrum.

Jones told peers the value of the spectrum would fall to £20m, while a further £100m “would go out the door”.

They called on the Government to act by setting up a public service fund.

While
the BBC should continue to be funded by the licence fee, they said
public service programmes on other channels such as ITV1, Channel 4 and
Five should be financed through the fund.

They made their plea to
a House of Lords select committee, which is due to report in October
before the Government renews the BBC’s Charter.

“Unless this
funding gap is closed, the danger is that areas of public service
provision will be unsustainable outside the BBC,” ITV told the
committee, headed by former Tory cabinet minister and journalist Lord
Fowler.

Allen said the critical point would come when some
regions moved from analogue to digital television, starting in 2008.
The first areas where the analogue signal will be switched off are the
Borders, Wales and the West Country.

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