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
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.
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
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
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