ITV's Diluted PSB Obligations Trigger 1,000 Job Losses

02 October 2008

LONDON: Last week's decision to enfeeble ITV's public service broadcasting obligations by Ofcom, the UK's politically-steered communications regulator, will eliminate one thousand jobs – a move that will dismay ITV staff but appease the discredited denizens of Wall Street and London EC2.

Britain's largest commercial TV company has already initiated a staff consultation process, stating that there will be "approximately 430" jobs excised from its News Division. In all, the double-decimation is expect to amount to around 1,000 heads – just under twenty per cent of its workforce.

ITV is clearly in a rush to make up for its declining ad revenues, some of the job cuts having already been implemented. 

The regulator issued a statement of archetypal ambivalence: "Ofcom welcomes ITV's commitment to guaranteeing the provision of regional news to 2012. In relation to regional news, Ofcom has no powers to set or influence ITV's budgets."

For which the English translation is "don't blame us for the job losses."

ITV executive chairman Michael Grade and his board have lobbied remorselessly for dilution of the broadcaster's PSB obligations.

Meantime, ITV chief operating officer, John Cresswell is in justification mode, pleading: "In order to sustain our investment in UK content, we have to keep on top of our cost base."

But as one observer pointed out: "Another way of achieving the same end is the production of programmes that attract more viewers and, by extension, advertisers."

Predictably the staff unions are up in arms.

Warns Paul McLaughlin, national broadcasting organiser for the National Union of Journalists: "Unless ITV meaningfully engages with unions over its plans for the future of regional news, industrial action seems inevitable.

"Any attempts to force through these massive cuts will be met with strong resistance."

Data sourced from; additional content by WARC staff