ITV in legal row with Rebecca Television website over unbroadcast interview

ITV has forced an investigative journalism website to take down video footage of an interview recorded a decade ago.

Lawyers acting for the broadcaster demanded the removal of the interview with Ron Jones, chairman of independent TV production company Tinopolis, after website Rebecca Televsion (RTV) used it in a programme last April.

The video, in which Jones criticised his fellow co-founder of Tinopolis and the current Wales director of Ofcom, Rhodri Williams,  was originally recorded for an ITV Wales programme in 2003.

The interview was never broadcast on ITV, but RTV editor Paddy French was the producer in charge of the proposed programme and chose to use the footage that he had kept from it when he made the 2012 programme, titled ‘Hidden Agenda’.

Although it was first uploaded to the site last April, ITV’s lawyers did not contact RTV until this June to request that it remove the material.

In a blog post on its website, RTV said it had “no choice” but to comply to the ITV deadline of 1 September to take the video down from his site. However, French told Press Gazette he would not give in to a further request that it remove an article based on quotes from the Jones interview.

“There’s no way I will take down the story,” said French. “It will stay up so the ball’s now in their court.”

He also questioned why the story and accompanying programme about Williams had been online for more than a year before ITV contacted the site.

“I don’t know what’s going on here,” he added. “People at ITV Wales have known about RTV using the footage for a year.”

French has argued that the interview and revelations contained within it about Williams were in the public interest and offered ITV a nominal sum of money to use the footage.

According to French, ITV’s legal adviser, City law firm Olswang, dismissed the suggestion ITV would sell the footage and, in a letter published on RTV’s website, added that “there is clearly no public interest in broadcasting material which you have obtained without consent from our client and which raises no current issue of public importance.”

An ITV spokesperson said: “This is simply a case of protecting intellectual property rights around footage.”

The company did not respond to questions about whether it would continue to seek the removal of articles referencing the material from RTV’s site.

In July, RTV faced potential legal action over another of its stories if it was not removed from the site. The article was not removed and RTV claims it has still not heard from the complainant’s solicitors.

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