Last two Tyne Tees directors ready to quit

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The Independent Online
THE only two executive directors of Tyne Tees Television remaining after the fallout from its merger with Yorkshire TV last year are set to resign in the next few days.

Steve Ireland, Tyne Tees' director of programmes, and James Lancaster, director of resources, are understood to have tendered their resignations after being told that they will have to report to their opposite numbers at Yorkshire TV's heaquarters in Leeds. 'They consider it constructive dismissal,' a senior source said.

Their resignations follow the departure of Tyne Tees' managing director, Ian Ritchie, three weeks ago. He left after failing to prevent the group managing director, Clive Leach, from pushing through large-scale changes that could lead to, among other things, the sale of Tyne Tees' City Road studios in Newcastle.

Yorkshire-Tyne Tees is coming under increasing pressure over a plan, first revealed in the Independent on Sunday to de-emphasise the role of the Tyne Tees operations within the company. Local business people and politicians have rallied against the moves, dubbed 'the switching off of Tyne Tees'.

On Friday, Anne Clywd, Labour's shadow Heritage Secretary, called on the Independent Television Commission, the regulator of ITV, to intervene over breaches of the Tyne Tees franchise application and assurances given to the ITC when Yorkshire and Tyne Tees merged.

Ms Clywd has sent a dossier to Sir George Russell, the Wearside-born head of the ITC, and has complained to the Heritage Secretary, Peter Brooke, saying: 'Tyne Tees is nothing less than a test case by which to judge the efficacy of the ITC as a regulatory body. The ending of Tyne Tees' status as an autonomous centre of regional programming would conclusively signal the breakdown of the structure of independent television set up by the 1990 Broadcasting Act.'

Yorkshire-Tyne Tees said that 'editorial and management control will remain the responsibility of the managing director of Tyne Tees', and that the new pounds 1.5m news centre in Middlesborough, launched last Wednesday, would increase local programmes for the southern part of the Tyne Tees area.