Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 19 April 2014

UTV told it can't cut 'non-news' programming

UTV has been told it cannot have the option of reducing the amount of non-news TV programmes it makes.

After holding a public consultation earlier this year, communications watchdog Ofcom said it had rejected UTV's proposal to reduce its non-news TV output.

The current licence requires it to produce an average of two hours per week across the year of locally-made, non-news – 30 minutes more than its counterparts in Scotland and Wales.

'Non-news' includes current affairs, entertainment programmes such as The Magazine, hosted by Sarah Travers, and factual shows such as Lesser Spotted Ulster. Such programmes are expensive for the company to make or commission, compared to the lower cost of buying programmes from the ITV network.

In a statement yesterday setting out new licence terms for ITV, STV, UTV and Channel 5, the watchdog said: "Ofcom has rejected UTV's proposal to reduce the amount of regional non-news programming."

Michael Wilson, managing director of UTV Television, said: "We acknowledge the outcome of the Ofcom consultation."