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29/05/2002

ITV launch £2 million fund for regional programming

ITV have announced a package of reforms, agreed with the Independent Television Commission (ITC), to modernise ITV’s regional commitments.
The reforms are published alongside a new ITV Charter for Broadcasting in the Nations and Regions that will safeguard the future of its regional services into the digital age.
The settlement provides for improvements in four key areas: enhanced investment in regional production; strengthened regional news services; a more effective regional schedule; and improved regional accountability.
As part of the agreement, ITV is set to spend at least half of its annual total commissioned programme budget outside London. A £2 million regional production fund will be established for investment in additional network programmes. The new fund will be accessible to HTV West programme makers, other ITV companies and the independent production sector.
In addition, ITV companies will invest an extra £1 million in regional programmes, including news, in and near peak viewing times.
Regional news on ITV1 will be enhanced with an additional 30 minutes of regional news per week in every region in peak time as the late regional news moves earlier to join ITV 'News at Ten'.
There will be a new common pattern of regional programme hours in the English regions, with higher levels in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. A greater proportion of regional programmes will be shown in and near peak time, and key regional slots are guaranteed in ITV licences. There will be a reduction in the number of regional programmes outside peak time but the new minimum levels will not include any repeats.
These changes will end the current disparity between regional services, creating a more coherent pattern across the whole ITV1 schedule. ITV1 remains the UK’s primary regional network, broadcasting more regional programming than BBC1 and BBC2 combined.
Local accountability will be bolstered with two non-executive directors appointed to regional company boards, and the establishment of regional advisory groups, which will be chaired by a non-executive director. This is in addition to the existing commitment to locally based managing directors of regional ITV licences.
ITV joint Chief Executive, Clive Jones, said: “Regional programmes are central to ITV’s public service remit, and we are pleased that this has been confirmed in the draft Communications Bill. These new reforms concentrate on the core values of ITV’s regional service and will ensure that ITV continues to deliver the high standards of quality and range that viewers expect and want to see.”
Jeremy Payne, Managing Director of HTV Group, said: “This settlement represents a significant change for HTV West and presents an opportunity to provide a relevant and effective service to viewers. HTV West has a proud tradition of programme making during thirty-five years of little change in the broadcasting world. With the advent of multi-channel television and increased competition a new approach is essential if regional television is to thrive. This is a challenge, but one which we are more than capable of meeting.”
Jane McCloskey, Director of Programmes, HTV West, said: “As we adapt our service to meet the needs of the viewers of today and tomorrow we will combine the best of the past with new talent of the future. Our programme schedule will have familiar elements, including our established presenters, but will also include new ventures reflecting life as it is today in the west of England.”
ITC, www.itc.org
ITV, www.itv.co.uk
(GMcG)
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