Page last updated at 15:22 GMT, Wednesday, 8 October 2008 16:22 UK

ITV 'could outsource region news'

Michael Grade
Grade said ITV should be "left alone to operate as a business"

Third parties could be paid to provide ITV with its regional news programmes, chairman Michael Grade has suggested.

His comments follow ITV's announcement last week that it was planning to cut 430 jobs in its regional news service.

Mr Grade said outside agencies could be "publicly funded" to provide ITV's news output in the nations and regions.

His speech at the Royal Television Society followed the publication of media watchdog Ofcom's second Public Service Broadcasting Review.

Published two weeks ago, the Ofcom report said ITV would be allowed to provide fewer regional programmes, including news bulletins.

Mr Grade's suggestion, however, goes considerably further, potentially enabling it to cease its in-house news production altogether.


Asked afterwards who might be recruited to replace ITV's indigenous news output, Mr Grade named a number of candidates.

"You could get PA (the Press Association) to do it, you could get Reuters to do it, you could get Sky to do it," he told reporters.

In his speech, Mr Grade said ITV would prefer to remain a licensed PSB (public service broadcaster) "if justified economically".

"It's time for ITV to be left alone to operate as a business," he added, saying the channel's public service commitments would soon see some of its 15 licensees operating at a loss.

"At present we are subsidising the Scottish and Ulster licensees to the tune of more than 25m per annum," he said.

In August SMG, owner of ITV's Scottish licensee STV, wrote to Ofcom to dispute this claim.

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