Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence



APPENDIX 18


Letter to the Chairman of the Committee from the Director of Policy, the Independent Television Commission

  When the Secretary of State gave evidence to your Committee on 14 February, you raised with him concerns expressed by Professor Harvey of Sheffield Hallam University about the ITC Regional Offices and the ITC Library.

  I thought you might find it helpful to have our account of the current position. The ITC is increasing its investment in the regions and refocusing that investment. The refocusing is driven by two forces. First, to reflect the shift in the key centres of programme production over the past decade, following changes in Channel 3 franchise ownership. Second, to shift resources from premises and back office administration to: a programme of citizens' juries and public research around the country to inform us of public expectations on content issues; more community initiatives in partnership with licensees and much greater contact with special interest groups.

  The ITC is creating six centres of excellence in Manchester, Birmingham, Winchester, Glasgow, Cardiff and Belfast. New skills will be brought to these offices through the introduction of regional programme managers, media relations and viewer relations assistants.

  The ITC will continue to have a presence in Newcastle, Plymouth and Norwich, with home based regional programme managers. Although the Sheffield Office will close, the regional programme manager will be located in Leeds (the base of Yorkshire TV). The burden of administration will be lifted from these managers to give them greater mobility and more opportunity to work closely with their respective licensees and local communities.

  Our aim in making these changes is to deliver a much more effective regional operation ensuring greater contact with local communities. Our concerns about effective regionality are a core part of the ITC's response to the White Paper Consultation. I enclose the relevant extract[24].

  As to the ITC Library, we very much recognise that it is a valued resource by academics, the public and those in the industry. Its primary purpose is to serve the ITC's operational needs and to help the ITC to provide an effective response to the thousands of enquiries we receive each year from the viewing public.

  It is being centralised to prevent duplicate collections of material within Foley Street and thus save money which is being reinvested in online technology to improve the Library's effectiveness. It is also being co-located with our Viewer Relations Unit to help them provide a swifter and fuller response service to enquiries from viewers.

  Over the years the Library has built up an important archive of material on the industry. As we look towards integration within OFCOM, we are also looking to find a secure, long-term future for the archive to ensure that it is effectively stored and maintained and, most important, that it remains fully accessible. We are in discussion with a number of parties about such a long-term home for the archive. The British Library is one, but only one, of these parties. In reaching any final decision, value for money and access will be the prime considerations and we will want to take current user's views very carefully into account.

  I hope that this explanation is helpful.

  I am sending a copy of this letter to Chris Smith.

February 2001



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