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ITV to axe eight regional newsrooms

ITV is hoping to reduce its number of regional newsrooms from 17 to nine by merging some services.

The broadcaster aims to save between £35m and £40m a year to invest in programmes with the closures, but must get permission from regulator Ofcom.

The London, Granada and Wales regional services will be the only ones unaffected by the proposed changes.

ITV plans to merge its West and Westcountry news shows – but the new programme would include short, recorded sections containing additional local content.

The same is planned for the Border and Tyne Tees regions as well as the East and West Midlands and the Meridian and Thames Valley areas.

– Under Fire –

Broadcasting union Bectu said there were 1,045 people currently employed by the ITV News Group.

It estimates that spending on news will be cut from roughly £90 million to between £50-£60 million, threatening hundreds of jobs.

It criticised the announcement as a move away from public service broadcasting.

Bectu supervisory official Sharon Elliott said: “(The) announcement is another kick in the shins for ITV’s regional news staff who work long and hard to produce good quality output that regional audiences appreciate.”

It called on broadcasting regulator Ofcom to take action over the issue.

Paul McLaughlin, national broadcasting organiser of the National Union of Journalists, said: “ITV has a strong history of public service broadcasting in the UK. Plans announced today would drastically reduce local news in the UK. This is a vital service for viewers and ensures that politicians and local organisations are held to account. The union opposes any reduction in the quality and service to viewers and we are calling upon all those who care about the future of quality broadcasting to back our campaign.”

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Updated: Wednesday 12 September 2007