Former ITN political editor Michael Brunson has criticised ITV's increasing influence over the content of its news bulletins, writes John Plunkett.
Brunson told Broadcast he was concerned that the 'wider costs' of ITN securing a further six-year contract to produce ITV's news had resulted in ITN ceding too much independence. ITV obtained greater control over the content and presentation of its news as a result of its #216m six-year deal with ITN last year.'From a commercial point of view, the new ITV contract was extremely good news because it secures its future for the next seven years,' said Brunson. But, he added: 'All that people like me worry about is the price that ITN paid for it in wider terms. In years gone by, people like (ex-ITN chief executive) David Nicholas was never subject to any kind of editorial interference. But ITN realised that if it was going to win it had to provide a news service that was very much (tailored) to the demands of the customer.'Last week, a preview of ITV 1 show Pop Idol was included in the headlines of a News at Ten bulletin.Brunson described the ITN logo and branding, now all but vanished in the new ITV News, as a 'kitemark' of independence.The value of the contract was slashed from #45m to #36m a year. ITN has made nearly 100 redundancies.Feature, pages 16-17.