'Dramatic changes' to work practices prompt ITN to announce 64 job cuts

ITN's new six-year contract for ITV News will mean 64 job cuts as the broadcaster invests in a £15 million technological upgrade of its news operations.

ITN has started a two-week consultation process with staff to reduce its workforce by 7.5 per cent and a voluntary redundancy scheme will open from Tuesday, 10 April.

It has proposed voluntary redundancy payouts of three weeks' salary for every year of service, capped at 45 weeks.

Employees will have four weeks to express interest.

A spokeswoman for ITN said part of the restructuring would include a pooling of resources by its London and national newsrooms. But she added that the broadcaster had 30 new vacancies that might help to reduce the job losses "substantially". ITN has not ruled out compulsory redundancies.

The cuts come on the back of ITN's renewed contract to produce ITV News until the end of 2012, worth in excess of £250m. It will be subject to Ofcom approval and the conclusion of a legally binding agreement by the end of May, and covers ITV's network and London regional news programming.

The contract replaces the current one which ends in 2008. The agreement, which works out at around £42m a year, includes a heavy up-front invest- ‘Dramatic changes' to work practices prompt ITN to announce 64 job cuts ment in new technology.

Mark Wood, chief executive of ITN, said: "We have concluded the contract earlier because we have embarked on the business of a complete technological swap and this is funded by ITV "We concluded some time ago that it was actually simpler to create a contractual framework, because it's an investment in technology that creates fairly dramatic changes in work practices and fairly sweeping changes in the way we work."

Wood (pictured) said that the technological changes would be about "empowering editorial staff to be much more creative in terms of packaging and producing".

He added that the new contract would also increase funding for coverage, in particular one-off exclusives such as the Three Degrees From Disaster series and its follow-up from Antarctica, The Big Melt.

The last time the contract was up for tender, ITN was forced to compete with BSkyB for it, but on this occasion, ITV decided against a competitive tender.

Wood said that, this time, ITV did not talk to any other providerduring the tendering process.

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