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Regional Broadcasting (East Midlands)

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 3:30 pm on 30th March 2004.

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Photo of Alan Meale Alan Meale Labour, Mansfield 3:30 pm, 30th March 2004

I am extremely grateful to be given the opportunity to raise the concerns of my constituents, and others in the east midlands, about ITV's decision to close its Nottingham studio complex and move its operations to Birmingham in the west midlands. With respect to my right hon. Friend the Minister for the Arts, who is a west midlands and Birmingham Member, I believe that if the move is enacted, it will lead to the loss of at least 400 jobs and will be severely detrimental to those who reside in the east midlands. That would worsen rather than improve regional news-gathering and delivery services in the east midlands. People in the region would have to make do with second-hand and second-class news provision.

At the outset, I remind the Minister that ITV's decision flies in the face of its own charter for the nations and regions, which states:

"Regional news is one of the defining features and most popular aspects of ITV's output. ITV is committed to extensive regional and sub-regional news coverage in excess of that offered by the BBC.

I am not privy to any information that the BBC is about to announce the closure of its studios in Nottingham. It has active radio and television studios and a production centre in Nottingham, as well as production centres in the west midlands. Therefore, ITV's statement is false and its decision flies in the face of the facts.

ITV's actions represent little more than a slap in the face for its customers in the east midlands as well as for the aspirations of the region, which are distinct from those in the west midlands, to where ITV intends to transfer its production coverage.