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Councils condemn ITV news changes

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Borders councils have condemned media regulator Ofcom for allowing ITV to slash its regional news coverage.

Cumbria CC and Dumfries & Galloway Council have both lobbied to save the Lookaround early evening local news programme, which they argue is a vital link in a sparsely-populated area.

Competition from digital channels has led ITV to seek savings by shedding costly public service broadcasting obligations such as regional news, imposed by the regulator.

Under Ofcom’s proposal, Border TV’s news would merge with Gateshead-based Tyne Tees, with a 15-minute opt-out for the region replacing the half-hour Lookaround.

Cumbria leader Stewart Young (Lab) said: “Vital jobs will be lost in Carlisle and reports on the border region will be produced from the north east.

“Ofcom’s consultation document is littered with references to the strength of feeling, but we've still been fobbed off with an unacceptable compromise.”

A Dumfries & Galloway spokesman said its lobbying had helped to win the concession of the 15-minute programme.

“Local news and information is demanded by, and of great interest to, people, and I hope that other means will be found to fill what is an obvious gap in provision,” he said.

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