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26/04/2001

ITV MOVE RAISES JOB FEARS

BECTU have warned that closer integration of Granada and Carlton TV could lead to job cuts.
The two companies announced that their jointly-owned digital broadcasters ONdigital would be merged with a more centralised ITV network.
The union fears that under central control ITV could combine separate transmission centres, as well as various sales and marketing operations, for their terrestrial and digital broadcasts.
ITV have revealed that their new structure is intended to save £20 million a year, and jobs throughout the network could be at risk.
The announcement could mark one of the last steps towards a single ITV company in future.
Already, ownership of the 15 regional ITV licences is dominated by Carlton and Granada following the departure of United News and Media from the sector.
Only two companies remain independent, Border TV, which Granada have an option to buy, and Scottish, with two licences in Scotland, which is 20 per cent owned by Granada.
BECTU have frequently raised concerns about cuts in regional production, especially news and current affairs, as local ITV companies have gradually been swallowed up by larger conglomerates.
Both Carlton and Granada have tended to move programme production to their bases at Nottingham and Manchester respectively, as they acquired new ITV companies.
Plans to relax the current ownership rules in ITV, trailed by the government in a recent White Paper, have been criticised by the union and other commentators.
The trend of job losses in ITV was highlighted on the day of the ONdigital announcement by talks at ACAS over 28 redundancies at Anglia TV.
Following Anglia's takeover by Granada, job cuts were announced, and volunteers were invited to come forward. Only 10 volunteers were accepted, leaving eighteen compulsory redundancies.
BECTU challenged management's refusal to divulge individual scores achieved by staff who went through a redundancy selection process.
The union also questioned the company's decision to retain staff on fixed-term contracts, while threatening full-time staff with redundancy.
Union representatives suspected that the company was keen to get rid of full-time staff, wherever possible, because they were generally higher-paid than contract employees.
Negotiators were hoping that ACAS, the government conciliation service, would find a compromise acceptable to the union and Anglia management. (CD)

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