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18/11/2008

Public Service Broadcasting Supported

A top-level conference has heard a call to continue support for public service broadcasting.
Northern Ireland Arts Minister Gregory Campbell underlined the importance of strengthening and sustaining the future for Public Service Broadcasting.
In his message to delegates attending Ofcom's Public Service Broadcasting Conference - 'Towards a Sustainable Future' - in Belfast, Mr Campbell said: "Public service broadcasting has been and continues to be hugely important to people in Northern Ireland. We value local news and current affairs programming more than in any other region of the UK.
"Today's conference will give people in the industry an opportunity today to voice their opinions about how public service broadcasting might look in the future."
The conference focused on how to ensure a sustainable future for public service broadcasting.
Delegates had the opportunity to discuss and debate the issues raised in the latest phase of the review which will focus on the long term future of public service broadcasting, including production in Northern Ireland, portrayal of Northern Ireland and indigenous language broadcasting.
Commenting on Public Service Broadcasting by commercial broadcasters, the Minister said: "These are difficult times for commercial broadcasters as they face growing competition and increasing commercial uncertainty as society moves towards digital switchover and a multi-channel provision. The levels of public service broadcasting on commercial television that we have been used to in the past are no longer sustainable.
"It is critical that, in seeking to find financially sustainable future models for Public Service Broadcasting in the UK, that the needs of Northern Ireland are not forgotten, as has happened in the past."
Acknowledging that the industry was experiencing uncertainty, the Minister added: "Many will share my concerns over the proposed cut backs in local news and programming at Ulster Television and the associated job cuts in response to Ofcom's review recommendations.
"Part of Ofcom's review has highlighted concerns that we in Northern Ireland have been almost anonymous on UK wide televisions.
"I therefore welcome the BBC's recent commitment to increase levels of production here from 0.4% to 3%.
"As we continue to build our economy in Northern Ireland, this injection to the creative industries here, will be critical to future development," he said.
(BMcC)
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