JOURNALISTS at a North-East television company are writing to MPs over plans to halve the number of regional programmes on ITV.

Broadcasters at Tyne Tees are worried that proposals by media watchdog Ofcom to reshape the size and content of the television industry will have an impact on regional news and programmes.

The regulator is carrying out a review of public service broadcasting and is making proposals in light of the switch to fully-digital television by 2012.

It wants to reduce regional programming from three hours a week to one-and-a-half.

Other plans under consideration could see North-East viewers catching up on regional issues via their mobile phones and computers.

Members of the National Union of Journalists at Tyne Tees, based on Teesside and in Newcastle, held a meeting this week to discuss their concerns.

Questions on what the proposals will mean for programming in the North-East and the possible impact on jobs were forwarded to national organisers, who met representatives of Ofcom, yesterday.

Newsreader Pam Royle, who is Mother of the Chapel (local leader) at the Teesside branch of the union, said: "There are concerns. We want all our members to write to their MPs to inform them of the proposals.

"If we lose the regional news and programmes, which is the voice of the area, the politicians in the North-East will lose their voice.

"They want to cut regional programming hours, which does not include news, but there are clauses which say that local news will only survive on ITV if it is financially viable - and that is the major threat. It has never been a secret that local news is not financially sustainable."

Ofcom is carrying out a consultation and any comments have to be made by November 24.

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