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01/05/2002

BECTU call on ITV Digital to honour staff contracts

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Collapsed digital broadcaster ITV Digital has been challenged by BECTU to honour staff contracts.
Responding to the announcement that ITV Digital would cease pay-TV transmissions from midnight on April 30, BECTU called for parent companies Carlton and Granada to underwrite notice and severance payments for the 1300 staff affected.
Assistant General Secretary Gerry Morrissey said: "Granada and Carlton may not believe they have a duty to the Football League but they have got a duty to the staff employed by ITV Digital. As partners in ITV Digital we expect Carlton and Granada to make good any contractual and statutory entitlement that the staff have."
The two ITV giants saw their digital service fall into administration last month after ploughing nearly £1 billion into the ITV Digital service since its launch as OnDigital in 1998.
"The collapse of ITV Digital must not be allowed to affect programme budgets for ITV1 just because Carlton and Granada have lost money on this venture", said Morrissey. "Both companies have seen a serious decline in audience share and with it a decline in advertising revenue. Therefore the cutback on programme budgets is just going to make the spiral of decline even worse. ITV is having a difficult time at the moment, but let's be clear - they are not losing money, they are just making less of it."
Observers have predicted that the failure of ITV Digital, coming on the heels of cable company ntl struggle to re-schedule enormous debts, could leave BSkyB's satellite system as the only commercially viable source of digital programming in the UK.
Morrissey called on the government and the ITC regulator to ensure that the digital terrestrial platform is maintained.
"If it was allowed to fold", he said, "then it would mean digital satellite would ultimately be the dominant platform and this would be damaging to the British broadcasting industry."
BECTU, www.bectu.co.uk
(GB)
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