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ITV Staff Victims of Corporate Greed

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NEWS RELEASE

DATE: 4 March 2009

ITV Staff Victims of Corporate Greed

Plans by ITV to axe a further 600 jobs has been condemned as “a shameful betrayal” of staff by the Chartered Institute of Journalists.

The broadcaster has announced 600 staff will lose their jobs, a £65million cut in its Programme Budget and a scaling back of the regional web -TV service.

Chairman of the Institute’s Broadcasting Division, Paul Leighton, said “ITV is making its staff pay the price for management ineptitude and corporate greed. It is significant that the largest component of the broadcaster’s £2.7billion loss is due to the merger costs of Granada and Carlton. That expensive exercise was conducted without any thought for the consequences if market conditions turned sour.”

He added: “It is just too easy to blame everything on the drop in advertising revenue. Reducing genuinely local news output in favour of vast merged regional centres can only further undermine advertisers’ confidence as viewers switch off. What Bristolian would want a “local” television news service that now features Cornwall?”

The Institute has urged Members of Parliament to lobby ITV to re-think its proposals.

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Notes to Editors:

Formed in 1884, the Chartered Institute of Journalists (CIoJ) is the world’s oldest established professional body for journalists, and a representative voice of media and communications professionals throughout the UK, Ireland and the Commonwealth.

Chartered Institute condemns ‘shallow’ press report that insults journalists

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NEWS RELEASE

RELEASE DATE:  13 FEBRUARY 2009

The Media Standards Trust is today accused of ‘insulting’ thousands of professional British journalists and demonstrating a ‘shallow understanding’ of the newspaper industry through its controversial report on the situation in popular daily publications.

The Chartered Institute of Journalists, the world’s oldest  professional association of journalists, and its Professional Practices Board, accuse the 12-strong report team of ‘tarring all with the same brush’ while ignoring the true roles of journalists, journalism and the vast majority of newspapers in British society.

The chairman of its Professional Practices Board, Robin Morgan, said: “The report falls into the trap of assuming the popular daily tabloids – that many self-respecting journalists call the comics! – represent the true picture of the British newspaper industry and fails to recognise the reasons for their style and content. This has a bearing on the Press Complaints Commission’s adjudications in this particular area while ignoring the value and respect the PCC and its adjudications carry in the vast majority of published titles.”

The report repeats the ‘foul canard of linking all journalists with estate agents, politicians and Arthur Daley-type second hand car salesmen’ while ignoring the fact that the vast majority of British journalists working on regional and local newspapers, as well as magazines, are responsible and respected members of their communities.”

Mr Morgan said: “The make-up of the reporting panel is flawed by its lack of inclusion of true professional journalists from the wider field who have a much greater understanding of our industry.

“We have asked the Media Standards Trust to withdraw this report for further consideration – or make it plain that it does not represent the fuller picture of journalism in Britain today.”

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Notes to Editors:

Formed in 1884, the Chartered Institute of Journalists (CIoJ) is the world’s oldest established professional body for journalists, and a representative voice of media and communications professionals throughout the UK, Ireland and the Commonwealth.

Public Service Broadcasting Future offers new hope

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NEWS RELEASE

Release time: 4 February 2009

The Chartered Institute of Journalists (CIOJ) cautiously welcomed Ofcom’s review of Public Service Broadcasting (PSB) for recognising that effective local and regional news needs to have an alternative supplier to the BBC.

But the oldest professional journalist organisation was less than convinced by the Government’s response in its Digital Britain report which can be seen at http://www.culture.gov.uk/what_we_do/broadcasting/5631.aspx

CIoJ General Secretary, Dominic Cooper said: “Ofcom’s report was refreshingly honest and took onboard the major contentions that the CIoJ had put in its submission, including not top slicing the BBC funding which would risk the quality of its PSB material.

“Frankly the Government’s response and its “way forward” seemed less convincing and glossed over the real issues of how we are going to get there, other than setting up a myriad of groups to look at specific issues.”

It was in the CIoJ submission that has a regulator, Ofcom could make suggestions, but it now needed the Government to take more direct control as the digital spectrum takes away the advertising funding which allowed commercial broadcasters to offer PSB.

“Interestingly Ofcom also questioned the long-term viability of the BBC and ITV sharing resources so that the commercial broadcaster can continue to provide regional news. It suggested that Channel 4 perhaps in conjunction with Channel 5 or the BBC World Service could offer an alternative news and current affairs source for regional and national news in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

“Thankfully Ofcom accepted the CIoJ view that given the uncertain future of regional news provision, there needs to be a parallel plan based on ‘independently funded consortia’ which gives a future for regional media delivering local news.”

In such a system Ofcom said that TV slots should be set aside to deliver regional news on the ITV network or, if it hands back its PSB licences, through Channel 4 or by using a new dedicated service within each region or nation.

Mr Cooper added:“For the first time Ofcom has a clear plan which offers real hope for the future and acknowledges the real concerns that the CIoJ has for maintaining PSB for people who are not going to be able to embrace the digital revolution.

“Our welcome is cautious because the subsequent report by Department of Culture Media and Sport (DCMS) and the Department for Business,Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR)set up many different groups, which are unlikely to offer a clear path to take forward Ofcom’s carefully researched issues.

“CIoJ will continue to fight for the need for Britain to retain an effective PSB service and will continue to press MPs and Ministers to focus on the citizen and the need for professional journalism in this challenging environment.”

Ofcom’s report can be seen at http://www.ofcom.org.uk/media/features/janpsb1

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Press contact: Liz Justice, CIoJ Press Office, 07780 661926.

The CIoJ’s submission to the Ofcom review may be viewed at: http://cioj.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/cioj-2nd-ofcom-psb-review-20081.pdf

Notes for Editors:
Formed in 1884, the Chartered Institute of Journalists (CIoJ) is the world’s oldest established professional body for journalists, and a representative voice of media and communications professionals throughout the UK, Ireland and the Commonwealth.

Wacky Jacqui’s hack attack

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NEWS RELEASE

RELEASE TIME:  12 February 2009

Control Orders which come into force on the 16th February will restrict the behaviour and movement of journalists and photographers carrying out their lawful jobs says the Chartered Institute of Journalists (CIoJ)

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith claims that the rules will impose restrictions on terror suspects who cannot be prosecuted in courts – without mentioning innocent people recording news events will also getting caught up in the scheme.

CIoJ General Secretary, Dominic Cooper, said: “This is the latest wacky scheme from Jacqui Smith who seems hell bent on pushing through as much restriction as possible on freedom of people trying to provide an alternative view to that of the Government.

”We have evidence of wide spread abuse of the anti-terrorism laws where news photographers are concerned. Photographers taking even the most innocent of pictures have been ordered to hand over their work and detained while they answer questions. This is totally unacceptable for people trying to cover news events with bonafide Press cards, which are approved by the police.

“Who is going to judge if the requests made are reasonable and who is going to compensate the news photographers who miss their shot because of they have been effectively handcuffed by an over exuberant policeman?”

“Creating a law does not make it sensible or democratic especially when people really don’t know how it will work in practice,” said Cooper.

Under the new Orders journalists can find that their computers are seized and that they become a “suspect” by trying to pursue a story that is remotely critical of rule breakers in Parliament or the Police.

“Under the existing rules we have seen Police raid the offices of an MP over alleged information leaks, and a local journalist being prosecuted at the Crown Court getting a last minute reprieve from the Judge.”

Photographers are now banned from taking pictures of Police Officers and that seems to follow on from months of the Police videoing Press photographers with the ‘excuse’ that public order situations may arise from their presence.

“What abuses will we see given these extra powers and the heightened level of paranoia contained in them?” demanded Cooper.

Notes:

Interim Control Orders, signed by the Home Secretary, must be referred to a judge within seven days for confirmation but cover:-

•Banning possession or use of specified articles or substances

Prohibiting the use of certain services, such as internet or phones

Restricting work or business

Restricting association or communication with certain individuals or any people

Restricting the person’s place of residence or who is allowed into the premises

Restricting movements within the UK or international travel

A specific 24-hour ban on movements

A requirement to give access to specified people to his home

A requirement to allow officials to search his home

A requirement to let officials remove items from premises for tests

A requirement to be monitored by electronic tagging or other means

A requirement to provide information to an official on demand

A requirement to report at a specified time and place

Institute calls for Commons inquiry into newspaper crisis

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NEWS RELEASE

Release time: 3 December2008

The Chartered Institute of Journalists has asked the House of Commons Select Committee for Culture, Media and Sports to hold an urgent hearing into the crisis affecting Britain’s newspapers.

Job losses, title and office closures along with axing of editions – mainly at the larger newspaper groups – has ‘potentially disastrous consequences’ for the future of democracy, as well as the profession, and demands an urgent examination by the Select Committee, the Institute has told Mr John Whittingdale, the Committee’s chairman.

Robin Morgan, chairman of the Institute’s Professional Practices Board, said: “In its own way, this crisis is now as bad as that affecting the banking industry. Vast areas of Britain will be denied their traditional local news coverage because of all these cutbacks.  And that will have serious implications for the operation of our cherished democratic processes – not to mention the future of our profession.”

It is clear that the bulk of the mayhem is being created by the larger publishing groups.  “This calls into question the abilities and perceived responsibilities of their senior managements.  Are they more interested in maintaining group profits to impress the stock market, or are they truly committed to proper news coverage?” said Mr Morgan.

“Newspapers will survive through their news coverage retaining the loyalty of readers, but once the readership notices the inevitable consequences of these cuts, through fewer relevant stories, they may just stop buying and the spiral will intensify. Interestingly, independently-owned newspapers are not figuring much in the figures which suggests an interesting conclusion,” said Institute general secretary, Dominic Cooper.

The Institute pointed out that concern is now widespread and the recent Society of Editors’ conference heard calls for public subsidies to help the struggling industry maintain local news services.

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For further information please contact:

Dominic Cooper: 020-7252-1187

Robin Morgan: by e-mail at robinmorgan@cioj.co.uk

Notes for Editors:
Formed in 1884, the Chartered Institute of Journalists (CIoJ) is the world’s oldest established professional body for journalists, and a representative voice of media and communications professionals throughout the UK and the Commonwealth.

Freeview vital for ALBA experiment!

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NEWS RELEASE

Release time: Immediate

Add Freeview! – is the plea by the Chartered Institute of Journalists (CIoJ) as the BBC’s £17m test channel in Gaelic called ALBA has been welcomed by viewers in Scotland.

Currently the BBC’s experiment of the ALBA channel will not reach the Freeview spectrum for another two years, which means that currently only a third of the Scottish population have access to the channel by FreeSat and Sky.

CIoJ conference, Scottish representative, Campbell Thomas, claimed the initial success of the venture – some 82 per cent of Gaelic speakers with access had viewed the channel – meant that the next phase should be moved on more rapidly.

“Why would any test be completed without the inclusion of the statistics for Freeview viewers’ since those are the most accessible low cost platforms in the Highlands and the Isles of Scotland and that’s where people are far more likely to be Gaelic speakers?

“Already it has been shown that 23 per cent of viewers in the Highland and Islands have watched BBC ALBA.  Bearing in mind that all experiments by the BBC are paid for by the Licence fee surely this experiment should be open to all? Freeview boxes have had their problems in Scotland but it is still the most accessible way people get digital TV.

“The Institute has written to the BBC Trust, urging them to roll this channel out to Cable and, more importantly, Freeview without further delay.  By giving everyone in Scotland the opportunity to view ALBA we will have a true reflection of how the channel will be received.”

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Press contact:  Campbell Thomas, campbellthomas@cioj.co.uk

Dominic Cooper, tel.  0207 252 1187 , email dc@cioj.co.uk

Chartered Institute of Journalists (CIoJ), 2 Dock Offices, Surrey Quays Road, London SE16 2XU. Website www.cioj.co.uk

Notes for Editors:
Formed in 1884, the Chartered Institute of Journalists (CIoJ) is the world’s oldest established professional body for journalists, and a representative voice of media and communications professionals throughout the UK and the Commonwealth.

Whingeing proprietors help stifle broadcasting opportunity!

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NEWS RELEASE

Release time: November 2008

The decision by the BBC Trust not to expand regional and local BBC web-sites with enhanced video news coverage has been labelled “a missed opportunity” by the Chartered Institute of Journalists.

The Institutes’ Broadcasting Division – which has members throughout the BBC – said it was ” a crying shame” that the BBC Trust had crumbled in the face of pressure from “self-interested” regional newspaper owners.

Former BBC Radio 2 newsreader Paul Leighton, Chairman of the Institute’s Broadcasting Division said:

“If regional and local newspaper proprietors want protection from the so-called “unfair competition” they claim BBC local video services would have offered, perhaps they should consider providing decent local news coverage instead of sacking editorial staff and closing or merging newsrooms.”

“Some newspaper proprietors claim they are struggling to make money from local and regional papers. They should be asking themselves whether they have caused the problem themselves – by trying to line share holders and directors’ pockets at the expense of proper news coverage and journalists’ jobs.”

He added” It’s particularly telling that local newspapers which have maintained genuinely local news coverage by keeping journalists at work in their communities – like Sir Ray Tindle’s newspaper group – continue to make money and enjoy the respect of their readers. If only other owners had chosen a similar path, instead of whingeing about “unfair competition” from the BBC.”

Journalists’ “tools of trade” are the latest to be targeted by Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith’s plans to give the police and security services more powers

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NEWS RELEASE
Release time: 22 October 2008

Mobile Phones and Emails – are to be the latest target in the Government’s proposals to fight crime and terrorism by setting up a huge database which collects so called “Communications data.”

While Ms Smith stressed the “content” of conversations would not be stored, the plans to collect more data on people’s phone, e-mail and web-browsing habits are expected to be included in the Communications Data Bill, due to be introduced in the Queen’s Speech in November.

If this giant database goes ahead it will mean that investigative journalists can be closely monitored.

CIoJ General Secretary, Dominic Cooper, said: “With the fiascoes of personal data this Government has so far managed to lose, from people getting child support through to military records, this idea has catastrophe written all over it.

“There is no validity in the proposals. They are yet another intrusion affecting working journalists.  That can never be acceptable.  It is quite obvious that people can use such data records to know who, when and where a journalist is ringing and from that take action. That is a deep and fundamental threat to any journalist investigating wrong doing in a so called democracy.”

In her speech to the Institute of Public Policy Research on Wednesday (October 15 2008), the Home Secretary said that recording of Communications Data – data about calls, such as the location and identity of the caller, is vital to target criminals and terrorists.

Mr Cooper said: “The media provides some of the most critical comment on Government and there are no safeguards to stop powerful people from using this information against journalists.

“The police already have the opportunity to track this information for serious crimes and as Ms Smith pointed out they were used to convict Ian Huntley, for the Soham murders, and those responsible for the 21/7 terrorist plots against London.  Why do we need more?

“The Police are already using every law they can think of to inhibit press photographers.  These measures will only serve to track and potentially inhibit journalists even more.”

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From Liz Justice, CIoJ Press Office, 07780 661926.

OFCOM GREEN LIGHT TO ITV IS FLAWED AS IT CONSULTS ON PUBLIC SERVICE BROADCASTING

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NEWS RELEASE
Release time: 2 October 2008

The Chartered Institute of Journalists has condemned the Broadcasting Regulator Ofcom’s decision to allow ITV companies to slash regional news coverage as “a betrayal of Public Service Broadcasting (PSB).”

The cuts will result in the loss of more than 400 jobs in regional newsrooms with a number of regions merged and output reductions. It also comes just days after Ofcom published the second phase of its review of Public Service Broadcasting ( PSB). The review finds that in order to sustain PSB programmes on channels other than the BBC, some £145-235 million in replacement funding will be required by 2012.

Chairman of the Institute’s Broadcasting Division, Paul Leighton, said “We are concerned that Ofcom’s role of maintaining effective public service broadcasting is undermined as it openly sought to smooth the path for this shabby round of job cuts and lost programming.

“What kind of regional news service will be left when big centres like Bristol and Plymouth are merged?  Has the Regulator even looked at the map let alone the very diversely different communities that live in these cities?”

The Institute’s submission in the review of PSB urged that the regional requirements of PSB could be maintained by a greater sharing of facilities with other news providers and that a re-think of Government financing along the same lines as its support to the British Film Industry should be examined.

In a detailed submission to Ofcom’s first part of the Review earlier this year, the Institute urged the Regulator not to give in to ITV proposals to reduce regional coverage as a response to falling advertising revenue. It also pointed out that a reduced level of regional news coverage would be a disincentive to advertisers and lead to an even greater loss of viewers in the longer term.

Mr Leighton, added: “In these days of the credit crunch we have sympathy with any business trying to deal with losses of revenue. CIoJ is still urging MPs to understand the crisis.”

Ofcom’s own research indicated the value that PSB is held in by the public. Losing local news coverage is just a start of the rot and Ofcom seem too caught in the financial spotlight.

CIoJ General Secretary Dominic Cooper said: “Once the fabric of this local broadcasting network has been decimated by Ofcom’s green light to ITV, it will never be replaced. Other companies will be keen to take advantage of this precedent.

“The attraction of this simple answer to the immediate problems facing ITV, and thereby PSB, are easy to comprehend. However, this quick fix solution will undoubtedly have massive long-term effects on plurality, focus and relevance of local broadcast news.”

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Notes to editors

1.      Ofcom’s review closes on 4th December 2008 and can be found at:- http://www.ofcom.org.uk/consult/condocs/psb2_phase2/

2.      The Ofcom Review also proposes reducing the obligations on ITV plc and the other channel 3 licensees next year to make the provision of highly valued programmes – original British content and news – more sustainable until the initial expiry date of the existing licences in 2014.

3.      The biggest changes – which prioritise peak time coverage – involve a restructuring of ITV’s regional news services in England and the Scottish Borders

4.      Institute represents journalists throughout broadcasting and the written media and has been serving journalists and journalism for more than a hundred years. Its broadcasting members include household names like Kate Adie and James Alexander-Gordon.

5.      If you wish to interview someone about this subject please get in touch with The CIoJ on 020 7252 1187.

From Liz Justice, CIoJ Press Office, 07780 661926.

Loss of a legend; Sir Charles Wheeler

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In the death of Sir Charles Wheeler the world of broadcasting has lost a gentleman journalist whose dedication to the profession saw him work well into his retirement years.

In a speech made at the Institute’s Presidential inauguration a couple of years ago, Sir Charles’s commitment to the profession was obvious in his passion for his work.  He had lost none of the charm and warmth which endeared him to both colleagues and viewers alike.

We are sorry to learn of his death and send our condolences and very best wishes to Lady Wheeler and his family.

Dominic Cooper, General Secretary

Chartered Institute of Journalists