'We're commmitted to serious foreign news,' insists ITN

ITN remains defiantly upbeat about its commitment to serious world news coverage despite major jobs cuts and recent indications from ITV bosses that they want more lifestyle journalism in the ITN news mix.

Journalists are concerned that ITN is trying to force through compulsory job cuts, rather than negotiate voluntary redundancies, following the announcement that up to 133 jobs must go out of a total staff of 1,000.

The company says 10 jobs will be lost in the ITN newsroom and a spokeswoman said most of the cuts would come from management, marketing and back-up services.

But there are concerns about cuts at the money desk, which provides financial and business journalistic expertise across all ITN’s news outlets.

There has been a nine-month recruitment freeze and there are hopes that some of those who lose their jobs in the ITV newsroom will be offered vacant positions.

The job cuts have been blamed on the general media recession and on ITN being forced to cut its price for the ITV news contract to fight off a challenge from a Sky News-led consortium.

Staff, though conceding management was forced to make the cuts, are deeply worried about recent comments by Steve Anderson, ITV head of news and current affairs, about the public’s limited desire for foreign news.

"A big question is exactly what does ITV want from ITN," said an insider. "We just don’t know. Does it want lots more entertainment and lifestyle? If people here wanted to do lifestyle journalism they’d have gone off and worked on This Morning with Richard and Judy." They said morale was at "rock bottom".

A spokeswoman for ITN said the company was committed to serious and foreign news coverage as well as lighter items as part of its news mix.

Uncertainty surrounds Channel 4’s search for a replacement for its breakfast slot next year. ITN is named as news provider for most of the contenders, although Sky News is the news source for one of the groups being considered.

Depending on the Channel 4 decision, ITN is hoping it will be able to make fewer than the previously announced 133 job cuts.

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