MP calls for Ofcom to delay decision on Meridian move

An MP for the Meridian Television area has asked the Government to intervene in the proposed redundancy and relocation of half the broadcaster’s workforce.

John Denham, MP for Southampton Itchen, requested that the Government demand Ofcom delay the move until the regulator has settled into its role.

Speaking at a Commons adjournment debate, Denham asked arts minister Estelle Morris to respond directly “on whether the reduction in Meridian’s programme-making capacity can be held back until Ofcom has decided how to approach the issue”.

“If that can be done, will she use every power that she has, either legally or by persuasion, to ask for that to be done? At least, it would be much better if the issue were looked at when those at Ofcom have got their feet under the table and have worked out how to approach the issue,” he added.

However, the minister suggested it was now too late to intervene on a decision already ratified by the previous regulator, the Independent Television Commission.

“The time to discuss whether the terms of the licence are sufficient to protect regional broadcasting has passed, but my robust message to the House is that I expect Ofcom to monitor the terms of licences and to take action if they are broken,” she told MPs.

“The irony, as the Member for Southampton Itchen, said, is that, having set up a framework and given the regulators the power to act, there is very little that the Government can do at this time,” Morris said.

By Wale Azeez

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