ITV axe to fall on Nottingham studio
12 February 2004 08:05
ITV is poised to pull out of Nottingham after deciding to sell its multimillion pound studio complex and move nearly all its operations to Birmingham.
The decision, part of Charles Allen's plans to make £100m of savings in the merged company, could see Europe's largest studio complex, once famously home to Crossroads, being sold off.
Most staff will be relocated to Birmingham although an unspecified number will lose their jobs. ITV may decide to keep a regional newsroom in Nottingham.
At its peak the Nottingham complex employed 350 people, including freelancers, but many lost their jobs as a result of Crossroads being axed last summer. A process of consultation with staff will begin shortly about redundancies.
Sources told Broadcast that the fate of the Lenton Lane studio complex was pretty much sealed by the death of Crossroads and Peak Practice, coupled with the overcapacity of studio space within the Granada and Carlton companies. One insider said: "The situation is exactly like Meridian." Meridian studios were often vacant and will now be sold to developers.
ITV may have to keep a regional newsroom in the city, depending on the view of Ofcom, which regulates local news resources. However, it is unlikely to intervene as Central operates two other newsrooms for the franchise at Birmingham and Abingdon.
Staff were alerted to the potential sale just before Christmas when minutes from a Tyne Tees Television communications group meeting, posted on the company's intranet, revealed that the Nottingham operation would be moving to a new site. But embarrassed bosses quickly removed the line from the website.
Sources confirmed that Tyne Tees is also "looking for a new home", but franchise chiefs have told staff that there will not be job losses on the scale of Meridian, where up to 170 jobs are going.
The NUJ is already threatening industrial action at Central over the redundancies of six senior producers in the regional department, which covers Nottingham and Birmingham.
ITV bosses had threatened to give those who lost jobs the statutory minimum pay if unions threatened industrial action. But, following an 83% vote in favour of moving towards a ballot, the NUJ said that Central bosses had offered a new round of talks.
A Granada spokesman denied that ITV was pulling out of Nottingham.