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Last Updated: Friday, 14 September 2007, 11:18 GMT 12:18 UK
Strike threat over ITV news cuts
Sangeeta Bhabra and Ian Axton on Meridian Tonight
Some of ITV's regional news services will merge
The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) has threatened to strike if ITV makes proposed cuts to its regional news.

Union representatives working at ITV have held an emergency meeting, criticising the network's plans to cut its regional newsrooms from 17 to nine.

The NUJ said the plans would lead to "many hundreds of job losses" and the union's general secretary Jeremy Dear said its members were "furious".

ITV chairman Michael Grade has said the current set-up is not sustainable.

'Arrogant disregard'

Mr Dear said: "One of our reps at ITV called this a punch in the guts and they are right - that is exactly what it is.

"It shows a breathtaking disregard for the broadcaster's public service commitment and an arrogant disregard for communities that will lose their local news."

Mr Dear said if services were cut and jobs axed, the NUJ would immediately urge a ballot for strike action.

The NUJ also plans to lobby media regulator Ofcom, which must give permission for ITV to go ahead with the proposed changes.

The mergers are part of Mr Grade's five-year plan to improve programming.

London Tonight
Central Tonight
Granada Reports
Meridian Tonight
Anglia Tonight
Border/Tyne Tees
Wales Tonight

ITV plans to merge its West and Westcountry news shows - but the new programme will include short, recorded sections containing additional local content.

The same is planned for the Border and Tyne Tees regions as well as the East and West Midlands and the Meridian and Thames Valley areas.

In a letter to staff, Mr Grade said if steps were not taken to save money now, the firm "could end up losing entirely something that - had we acted sooner - could have been sustained".

Broadcast union Bectu has also criticised the move, saying it marked a "further significant and damaging step by the broadcaster away from its public service broadcasting" commitments.

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