Welcome to the first TV File of 2009, the new name for TV Weekly. It’s also the last in our regular series, but we’ll be back in May with a new monthly file wrapping up entertainment and TV stories in bite-size nibbles. In this issue Michael Grade wants an apology, STV continue their dropping of ITV programming and Moving Wallpaper continues to slide.

Dyke Blasts ITV and Grade

ITVIn a special piece for The Times newspaper Greg Dyke gave his view of ITV and its top boss, Michael Grade. While a lot of the comments were things a lot of people had said in blogs and on forums and more tactfully, maybe, in newspaper stories Dyke let rip with vigor.

He commented: “It is easy for ITV’s management to blame their current ills – 600 jobs to be cut, £135 million to be slashed from its budget over the next couple of years – totally on the recession. But they cannot escape responsibility; short-term leadership over the past decade has played a big part in ITV’s failure to respond to new competition. But it is true that the main reason for the disaster that is ITV’s finances is the current recession; very few businesses could cope with a sudden downturn in revenue of 20 per cent with no one knowing when it is likely to end.”

He added: “In these circumstances I suppose one should have some sympathy for Michael Grade, Chairman of ITV since 2007, but not too much. He left the BBC in the lurch when he resigned as Chairman at a crucial moment in the licence fee negotiations, having first gleaned every bit of information he could about BBC One’s future schedule. Armed with this intelligence from within, he jumped ship to ITV with the aim of making his millions, only to discover the ship was sinking.”

The article also went on to discuss ITV’s football rights, and the ins-and-outs of the expensive rights the company purchased. Further jibes at Grade, from his BBC departure to little hope of getting a Knighthood.. Dyke went on to suggested Grade and his recent predecessors “never had a workable strategy for ITV“.

Grade and ITV Demand Apology

Following the previously discussed article in The Times newspaper, ITV and Michael Grade have taken offence to Greg Dyke’s blunt comments, and are demanding an apology from the publication.

While currently no legal action has been started both Grade and ITV have written to The Times asking for an apology over the article entitled ‘Grade’s ITV is in a classic lose-lose situation.’ No one involved in the fracas was available fro comment, and it is believed Grade and ITV have not issued any correspondence directly to Dyke.

STV to become ‘More Scottish’

STVAs we’ve reported recently UTV and STV, local companies in the ITV Network, have decided to drop some networked programming by ITV Productions. The local company wants to be at “the heart of Scotland.”

The latest ‘victim’ of STV’s “more local” plan is drama series Lewis which rates well for the channel.

“For us it’s about being branded a Scottish channel rather than being the ITV branch in Scotland – we are determined to serve our viewers better with programmes to entertain, educate and inform.” Said STV’s Head of Content Alan Clements to Deadline Scotland.

The proposed new-look to the STV schedule will see the broadcaster shifting from the traditional ITV London-planned programming and working more closely with channels such as Paramount Comedy and National Geographic to bring new productions to Scottish televisions. There will also be a whole new-look to STV from next week with new on-screen branding, which includes a brand-new logo, as well as revamped 6pm news programmes across its regions. The current look to the station was launched just over three years ago, those changes saw Grampian Television for North Scotland and Scottish Television both transformed into the one STV name, however separate news services for North and South Scotland remain.

Programmes known to be ditched from STV’s line-up so far are Lewis, Moving Wallpaper and Al Murray’s Happy Hour.

Has Piers Morgan Got Talent?

The search is still on to see whether Piers ‘ITV favourite’ Morgan has any real talent. Thus far in the search we’ve found more talent in Jade Goody’s little toe, which in the talent scale is 0.1%.

If you witness Piers show some real talent, let us know.

Moving Wallpaper Slips Down

Moving Wallpaper has proved to be another flop for the Grade-headed ITV. The series dropped to its lowest audience ever on Friday thanks mainly to the Comic Relief telethon on the BBC.

The show managed 1.39m (5.7%) for ITV between 9pm and 9.30pm. The first episode of the ‘sitcom’ saw 2.2m tune in. This second series will air for another three editions.

Trouble at Tyne Tees

It seems such a quiet station, such a warm and friendly station – yet reports suggest merry hell has been going on behind the scenes at ITV Tyne Tees for over six years.

The station, which launched as Tyne Tees Television back in January 1959, is at the centre of a ‘newsroom bullying’ scandal according to Media Guardian.

They report that North East News production staff made allegations that a former manager was rife with comments concerning racism, sexism and disabilities...

The report suggests issues first surfaced over six years ago when the company was still located at its City Road studios in Newcastle. The original incident saw a manager accused of bullying by one of the journalists after inappropriate comments concerning disabled people who had appeared on Tyne Tees.

Other comments made, Media Guardian claim, involved Chinese people, gypsies and female members of the on-screen news team. Over a course of three years three investigations were carried out, however the manger was ‘ticked off’ for the first incident and sent on a ‘management training course’. Following the later complaints a written warning was issued before finally being suspended and paid-off to the tune of around £50,000.

ITV since these events have founded a anti-bullying programme across all of its local news centres. However since that came into action a further three complaints have been made at Tyne Tees, which is now located at the Watermark Studios in Gateshead.

The latest accusations once again suggest a continued act of bullying, sexism and racism at the company.

As a result of the case, ITV rolled out a rigorous anti-bullying programme across the company. Despite that, last year in the same newsroom, now based in Gateshead, a further three female journalists lodged complaints of bullying, sexism, and racism, bringing further internal investigations.

An ITV source told Media Guardian: “The last five years have been incredible with five bullying investigations in just the one newsroom.

“It has cost the company a fortune. In total, six people have left with what we believe to be the thick end of £400,000 in settlements to stop them going to employment tribunals. The total time spent off on sick leave or suspensions amounts to five years.

“That is the equivalent of around £250,000 in sick pay just while they were off work. If you add the legal costs, plus all the management consultants, independent investigators brought in and the appeals which went with those investigations the total bill is £1m.

“It has been handled appallingly.”

Quote of the Week:

“It has been handled appallingly.”

An ITV Insider speaking on troubles at Tyne Tees’ studios in the North East. However it could quite easily sum up the entire ITV Network and how its been run for the past fifteen years.

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