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Sinn Féin UTV motion passes with all party support

24 November, 2008 - by Barry McElduff

Sinn Féin MLA and Chair of the Culture Arts and Leisure Committee, Barry McElduff has welcomed the Assembly passing with all party support, the Sinn Féin motion calling for OFCOM to protect public service broadcasting and for UTV to suspend its restructuring and redundancy programme

Speaking after the motion Mr McElduff said:

"I have to say I am very pleased that this motion was passed with all party support and that this sends a clear message to the Management of UTV that there are serious concerns about the downsizing of public service broadcasting at the station.

"There is an onus now on the management of UTV to safeguard and protect quality public service broadcasting. It is important to provide a platform for our local creative industry. Given that RTE doesn't reach all of the homes in the north, if we end up with just the BBC with no competition in local programming the overall strength and diversity of programming will be affected.

"As a result of these proposals to cut both staff and public broadcasting services at UTV I would strongly urge the Assembly to establish a local broadcasting commission and I will be asking the First and Deputy First Minister to investigate this in conjunction with the Culture, Arts and Leisure Minister, Gregory Campbell.

"Furthermore I am calling on UTV to suspend further their internal action of issuing Voluntary redundancy notices until the OFCOM review is completed in the Spring of 2009. Currently these have been put back to December however, to pre-empt the oncoming report would be erroneous on behalf of the UTV management.

Note to editor:

Today's motion is as follows:

That this Assembly expresses concern at Ofcom's proposals for a diminution in the public service obligations of UTV through a reduction in the minimum requirements for regional news and non-news programmes; calls on Ofcom to protect diverse, quality broadcasting through the promotion of local news and programming; calls for the extension of Ofcom's Public Service Broadcasting Review consultation period for a further three months; and further calls on UTV to suspend its restructuring and redundancy programme pending the outcome of this consultation process, and following meaningful consultation and negotiations with the trade unions representing staff at UTV.

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