Page last updated at 18:02 GMT, Thursday, 26 June 2008 19:02 UK

Politicians criticise news merger

Michael Moore MP
Michael Moore called on ITV to release more details of their proposals

South of Scotland politicians have made formal submissions to the broadcasting watchdog about ITV's proposals to merge Border TV's news with Tyne Tees.

Lib Dem MP Michael Moore and his Holyrood colleague Jeremy Purvis criticised plans to reduce ITV regional news operations from 17 to nine.

They told Ofcom plans for a south of Scotland opt-out from a Gateshead-based news programme were "sketchy".

ITV said revised proposals had been put forward after extensive consultation.

The plans, which include the abolition of ITV Border's Lookaround programme, require approval by the regulator.

Under ITV's plans, the extent and quality of coverage for regional news in the south of Scotland will be diminished
Michael Moore
Lib Dem MP

Consultation on the issue has just closed.

In their submission to Ofcom, Mr Moore and Mr Purvis described the Borders as being at a crucial stage, with the switch to digital television taking place in just a few months time.

They called on the regulator to recognise the shortcomings that already existed in the provision of television in the Borders and to avoid making the situation even worse by allowing a merger of news operations.

The parliamentarians have also called on the watchdog to compel ITV to release more details of their proposals to the public.

Not convinced

Mr Moore described ITV Border as "one of the key sources of local information and news".

"Under ITV's plans, the extent and quality of coverage for regional news in the south of Scotland will be diminished," he said.

"I am not persuaded that centralising news gathering somewhere in Tyne Tees will help ITV face up to the challenges of providing a meaningful regional news service for the south of Scotland.

"I urge Ofcom to insist that ITV puts more of their detailed planning into the public domain - this is vital to the credibility of this review."

Mr Lamont said the current Borders operation was not perfect but claimed that the alternatives being proposed were far worse.

He said it was vital that the area continued to have a truly local TV news service.

An ITV spokesman said: "Following the announcement of ITV's turnaround plan last September, we undertook an extensive consultative process with internal and external stakeholders, including MPs and MSPs from the Border region.

"As a result of this consultation, in April ITV unveiled a revised set of proposals taking account of a desire to see a greater level of news provision at a local level. We believe that the revised plans will deliver a more sustainable regional news service for a digital market whilst still delivering the necessary cost savings."


SEE ALSO
TV news fears taken to Holyrood
15 Nov 07 |  South of Scotland
'Tough fight' over TV news scheme
16 Oct 07 |  South of Scotland
TV news fear taken to Westminster
11 Oct 07 |  South of Scotland
ITV to merge regional newsrooms
12 Sep 07 |  Business

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