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Tuesday, 30 April, 2002, 16:57 GMT 17:57 UK
900 jobs go at ITV Digital centre
ITV Digital call centre, Pembroke Dock
Talks are underway to find new employers at the site
All 900 employees at the Pembrokeshire call centre of the troubled ITV Digital channel have been told they are likely to lose their jobs.

A statement from administrators Deloitte & Touche issued on Tuesday afternoon confirmed pay television operations would be closing down - a move expected to hasten the end of the company.

Redundancy notices are expected to be issued to staff in Pembrokeshire on Wednesday.

The call centre is one of the major employers in the west Wales area and it was regarded as vital in preventing young people from leaving the area in search of employment.


I didn't know what was going to happen. I was off today but was sent a text message by a friend which said 'come in we are being made redundant'.

Employee Libby Hall

A spokesman for the company which runs the call centre said: "If no realistic outcomes develop today, it is our expectation that we will have to issue notice of redundancy tomorrow".

Speaking outside the building, employee Libby Hall said: "I didn't know what was going to happen. I was off today but was sent a text message by a friend which said 'come in we are being made redundant'.

"We haven't been told much and the mood is very sombre. I don't know what to do for the future there is nothing else to look for around here."

Colleague James Green, 18, said: "We were given a piece of paper with phone numbers of other call centres on them and were advised to call them to see if they had any jobs. I blame ITV Digital."

The news comes a day after a delegation of Welsh politicians visited to discuss the possibility of European Union assistance to protect the jobs.

Plaid Cymru MEP Jill Evans and Welsh Assembly Economic Development Minister Andrew Davies were at the plant in Pembroke Dock to meet the taskforce set up to safeguard employees in the wake of the firm's financial crisis.

Pembrokeshire Labour MP Jackie Lawrence said on Tuesday that everything would be done to find a new client for the call centre.

"We have a well-trained workforce and one of the best call centres in the whole of the UK," she said.

The workforce was supplied by contractors Manpower and 7C.

call centre worker
The centre is a major employer in Pembrokeshire

7C Operations Director Scott Henricks: "We've have been holding talks with other companies about the site, who are interested in bringing work to Pembroke Dock.

"Although there is progress, it is too early to say anything with great confidence."

ITV Digital, launched as ONdigital in 1998, has always struggled to compete with satellite broadcaster BSkyB.

The crisis came to a head when ITV Digital said it could not afford to pay the remaining 178.5m it owed the Football League for a three-year broadcast rights deal.

Its owners - Carlton and Granada - deny any liability for the company's debts.

The company has more than a million subscribers, although it is reported to be losing 4,000 customers a day.

Last Monday, Cardiff-based company SDN pulled the plug on the ITV Select pay-per-view movie venture it ran jointly on the ITV Digital platform.

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 ON THIS STORY
BBC Wales's Hywel Griffith
"This was the day that 900 workers had been dreading."
See also:

30 Apr 02 | Wales
Plug pulled on Cyber Bay?
30 Apr 02 | Wales
Workers 'confused and angry'
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