Press Office

Wednesday 24 Sep 2014

Press Releases

ITV and BBC work together on future of news in the English regions and Wales

Joint press release from the BBC and ITV

ITV and the BBC have today signed a Memorandum of Understanding that could – over the next decade – help to deliver cost savings for regional news on ITV1.

The two organisations have been discussing possible ways in which they could work together in a partnership aimed at securing a long term future for regional news on Britain's main commercial channel.

The two sides have stressed that a final agreement would need to maintain the editorial plurality of news services in the English regions and Wales and ensure that the journalistic integrity of both broadcasters is preserved.

Discussions so far have ranged over a number of ways in which the two organisations could work together to create synergies that would – subject to full feasibility – reduce costs of regional news provision.

The possibilities include co-locating the ITV and BBC regional news centres and bureaux, sharing technical facilities and resources and pooling some of the video pictures gathered by BBC crews for use in ITV's regional services.

While any final agreement is subject to further discussion, the two sides have outlined a mechanism in which the BBC would provide access to its regional news infrastructure and resources.

With the synergies that might be created, ITV estimate that there is the potential for a saving to them of £1.5million in 2011 rising incrementally to around £7million per annum by 2016.

According to ITV, the current cost of ITV's regional news services in England, the Borders and Wales is around £55million per annum, excluding news provision for the Channel 3 licences in Scotland, Ulster and the Channel Islands.

While the Memorandum of Understanding signed today is non-binding and each party has set a number of conditions around its future application, both the BBC and ITV stress that they will insist on maintaining full control over their own content and the scheduling of their regional news programmes.

BBC Deputy Director-General, Mark Byford, said: "The BBC and ITV will now continue our discussions around what would be an innovative and ground breaking proposal."

ITV's Chief Operating Officer, John Cresswell, said: "Plurality in regional news is an important part of PSB and we welcome this step in helping to support it."

Notes to Editors

1. Any final partnership on regional news would build on a history of collaboration the BBC and ITV have already engaged in, including the development of Freesat, Freeview, and the proposal launched last December to develop a common industry approach to delivering on-demand and internet services to the television.

2. Any final agreement would be subject to the development by the BBC and ITV of a comprehensive Service Level Agreement (SLA), and all necessary approvals ahead of possible implementation from 2010/11.

3. The proposal explored by the BBC and ITV has the following main elements:
a. The BBC and ITV could share newsroom and studio facilities in England. News teams would also be co-located at a single broadcast site in Cardiff by 2015, although gallery and studio would remain separate so that the BBC can continue to deliver both Welsh and English language services.
b. The BBC would share some regional news picture gathering resource. Nothing in the proposals would prevent either the BBC or ITV from generating their own exclusives. A key objective would be to ensure privacy for both parties within shared buildings to allow original journalism to be created and delivered.
c. A "pool" of pictures would be established and made available to both BBC and ITV. ITV would have access to a proportion of raw footage gathered by the BBC's regional news teams. Exclusive stories and features would not be shared. This builds on the "pooling" of video coverage of events which is currently done on an occasional basis.

4. The current proposals would see these partnerships begin to roll out across England from 2010-11 (subject to all necessary approvals) with full implementation being completed in 2015. Broadcasting in Northern Ireland and Scotland is not covered by the scope of the memorandum. Any partnership arrangements need to comply with State Aid requirements.

5. ITV estimates that the partnership would deliver a cost saving of £7million per annum at maturity. ITV would begin to secure benefits from 2010/11 and these would rise to £7million over time as the partnership is rolled-out. See below.

ITV's estimates of their cost savings per year
2011: 1.5 Net savings to ITV (£m)
2012: 2.5
2013: 4.5
2014: 5.7
2015: 5.2
2016: 7.1.

A full copy of the memorandum is available under Related BBC Links on the right.

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