ITV plans to cut regional programming

LONDON - Reports show that 11 out of the 16 ITV franchisees have voted to cut regional programming output following the recent slowdown in the media industry.

The 11 companies want to reduce their minimum level of regional programming to eight hours per week, which will result in a cut of almost 50% in some cases.

The network is obliged to show some local programming, but the move has renewed fears that regional productions will become sidelined in order to make way for more commercial programming.

ITV hopes to calm a possible outcry by reuniting News at Ten and the late night local news, which is currently being shown after 11pm. In addition, ITV has pointed out that the cuts will be made during the day and late-night programming.

A spokeswoman for ITV said: "It's been long since reported that we have been talking to the ITC about reorganising our regional programming. The reports today come from a leaked document and we have barely started our discussions.

"This is not a cost-cutting measure, it is about creating a more effective schedule which is vital for the continued health of ITV overall and its ability to invest in regional programming in the future."

ITV has encountered some of the largest losses amongst media companies during the recent advertising slowdown. Carlton Communications and Granada have seen their shares fall substantially this year. Carlton's are at 160p from a year-high of 670p and Granada's have fallen to 115p after a peak of 248p.

It is expected that the ITV companies will encourage the ITC to begin the changes at the beginning of next year.

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