ITV Tyne TeesITV is to cut more jobs, this time at their ITV Signpost division which is housed at the ITV Tyne Tees studios near Newcastle. Signpost, which was launched by Tyne Tees Television in the early 1980s is currently the UK’s largest provider of on-screen British Sign Language.
 
The service has provided sign language within programmes on BBC One, ITV and Channel 4. Including, according to a 2002 press pack, EastEnders, Emmerdale and Champions League Football. Locally from November 1992 the arm produced, with Tyne Tees News, ‘Newsweek’; a half-hour signed and subtitled round-up of the weeks regional news.
 
The service took off with the arrival of Channel 4 in 1982 when Tyne Tees produced Listening Eye and Sign On for the broadcaster. Speaking in 2002 the then Managing Director, Bob Duncan said: “We are a centre of excellence, somewhere that acts as a role model for deaf young people across the region and country.”
 

Signpost at one time employed 30 staff members, currently 24 full time sign language experts work for the ITV company. Cut backs will see seven of the team laid off.

 

With Ofcom changing regulations some broadcasters have cut back on their coverage for deaf viewers. The British Deaf Association isn’t happy with the changes and has urged ITV to rethink the job losses, stating that ‘deaf people deserve to have more coverage, not less.’  “Whilst we regret any cutback in provisions for deaf people, we do understand the current climate and earnestly hope ITV will reconsider its decision.” BDA commented.

 

An ITV Tyne Tees spokesperson local newspaper Sunday Sun: “In recent months there has been a significant reduction in the volume of core sign language translation business at ITV Signpost due to the loss of a number of key contracts, primarily as a result of regulatory changes.”

 

Changes by television regulator Ofcom allows small channels to now opt out of the old agreement where all broadcasters had to broadcast at least half an hour of signed programming every month. New rules state if a channel’s ratings share is one per cent or less they can instead of broadcasting signed productions provide £20,000 towards sign language programmes on the Community Channel.

 

The latest axing of jobs follows large scale cut backs earlier this year which saw the majority of Yorkshire Television network productions cease.

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