Snow warns against 'crazy' ITN cutbacks

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The Independent Online

The Channel 4 news presenter Jon Snow angered his ITN managers yesterday in a simmering debate about the quality of news programmes.

Mr Snow launched a fierce attack on ITV for "reducing its commitment" to news and current affairs, and said that the decision by ITN, which makes Channel 4 News, to cut jobs and reduce its annual budget from £45m to £36m was "crazy" and "dangerous".

His outburst provoked an immediate rebuttal by ITN, which is under pressure in a ratings war with BBC news. A spokeswoman said: "ITN's commitment to high-quality news remains undiminished. Most of the redundancies will come from streamlining management positions to protect frontline journalism."

Last month managers, production workers and journalists at ITN were told of impending redundancies as the company switched to digital technology and sought to cut the cost of news-gathering.

ITN has been accused of abandoning hard news coverage after it cut jobs and encouraged reporters to produce more "lifestyle" stories.

Mr Snow said last week about the coverage of the Afghanistan conflict: "The thing which worries me is that the number of people who have reporting experience to draw on is beginning to diminish, which is a crazy thing because we never needed them more than we do now. Up to 200 people are going to be sacked from the company where I work, which is ITN." He said that in 1991 the Independent Television Commission required ITN to spend up to £60m to provide an adequate service compared with a £36m budget announced last week.

ITN said that 90 staff would lose their jobs, including 10 journalists. The bulk of the redundancies would be made elsewhere. It dismissed reports that it would scrap its loss-making 24-hour news channel.

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