Rules will protect regional TV content

The Government is planning tighter rules for independent broadcasters to ensure that the regional character of soap operas such as Granada Television's Coronation Street will be preserved.

Chris Smith, the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, will use the forthcoming "White Paper on Broadcasting" to make clear that the regional television stations must prevent "identikit" programming across the ITV network.

Mr Smith said during Culture questions that he expected the Independent Television Commission to uphold the character of regional television stations even if they were taken over. "What I do not want to see is identikit programming coming across the world of ITV as a whole," he said.

Referring to the possible takeover of Border TV, which covers theAnglo-Scottish border, he noted that a "genuine cross-party operation was the nature of the franchise" when it was first awarded.

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