No news is bad news 

10 October 2003

Eastern Daily Press news story

Of course, you have to expect the regional newspapers, struggling for so long, to welcome – or at least fail to notice the shortcomings – of a plan to reduce the regional ITV licences commitment to news provision.

This policy, in retrospect, is obvious. The mindless droids of ITV have long been saying – in public and on chat lists – that no one cares about local programmes. All we want, apparently, from a local station is local news.

Having effectively killed off local programming – claims that “Trisha” or the like is a ‘local’ programme are evident nonsense to anyone with a brain cell to spare – ITV’s owners… sorry, owner… now say that we don’t care about local news after all.

Or, more likely, since we didn’t rise up and cause revolution or something when the local programmes faded away, we ‘obviously’ don’t give a stuff about local news, either.

So local news programmes will ‘merge’ with ITN – causing yet more job losses in the sector, something for the shareholders to celebrate and the City to reward in this mad world we now live in – and a fine IBA idea, micro-regions, will also start to fade away.

The Eastern Daily Press is quite happy with an end to Anglia West. But will the residents of Milton Keynes and Northampton be happy to suddenly find their news coming from Norwich – or worse, London, where 85% of the population of this country don’t live?

When Yorkshire took over TTT, their first action was to strengthen the Bilsdale opt-out of news into a full service. Granada’s first action was to merge it back into the Newcastle feed (because warehouse fires in Sunderland are important to farmers on the Yorkshire Moors, you see).

This principal can now be extended nationwide, and we can all watch London’s local news and enjoy the locality of it, even whilst we dip sheep in Carlisle.

The best thing that a merged ITV could have brought us would have been to have provided a news service per main transmitter – something even the BBC haven’t considered. Instead, we’re doomed to watching ITV give up its only USP in a rush to become a poor man’s Sky One. With a lower audience in the end, too.

It’s always good to be right, but seldom good to have been proved right in retrospect.

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