Ofcom warns that regional news will cost ITV network 64m from 2012

OFCOM warned yesterday that regional news programming across ITV&rsquo;s networks could be hemorrhaging up to &pound;64m a year by 2012.<br /><br />The watchdog&rsquo;s estimate means that new funding is needed to ensure the continued provision of regional news on Channel 3, because the costs of paying for the license would outweigh the benefit.<br /><br />The Channel 3 regional licence allows ITV in England, STV in Scotland, and UTV in Northern Ireland to broadcast terrestrially via reserved analogue and digital signals.<br /><br />The licence gives broadcasters a prominent place on the programme guide but in return they have to provide regional news services, something that ITV has indicated it will not be able to afford do from 2012.<br /><br />Ofcom has previously suggested allowing the creation of independent news consortia, funded by competitive tender, to deliver regional news across the channel.<br /><br />The consortia could be made up of existing television news providers, newspaper groups or other agencies. Ofcom will now submit its findings to the government, which will take the final decision on any new funding.<br /><br />Separately, ITV said yesterday that it has started proceedings against its Scottish network partner STV to recover what it says is a &pound;38m shortfall in network programme contributions.<br />