Border TV newsroom faces axe

PLANS to re-vitalise ITV over the next five years could result in the merger of the newsroom serving much of the Scottish Borders with its counterpart in the north-east of England.

Were it to go ahead, the move – set out yesterday by ITV’s executive chair, Michael Grade – would be part of an overall reduction of the station’s 17 local newsrooms into nine.

That would mean a merging of the Border and Tyne Tees newsrooms. But any change would first require the approval of broadcasting regulators, Ofcom.

Trade unions, NUJ and BECTU, both objected to the newsroom reduction plans, as it did local MP, David Mundell.

The Tory MP for Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale & Tweeddale, said: “Not only will this wipe out Border TV, but it will also wipe Dumfries and Galloway and the Borders off the television news map.

“ITV’s plan to merge its smaller companies such as Border TV is appalling and unacceptable for the area. This is a clear disregard for the viewer and it is clearly driven by cost-cutting. I shall be writing to Ofcom, the Secretary of State for Culture Media and Sport, James Purnell MP, and will be raising this at the House of Commons as soon as Parliament is back after recess.

“The current licence conditions means that these changes cannot be made without regulator Ofcom’s consent before 2014 and that’s why everyone must be ready to fight this proposal.

“Although stv is not affected by this particular announcement, they will come under pressure to make similar cost-cutting arrangements, which is why it is vital the idea mooted by Michael Grade doesn’t get off the ground.”