Granada defends job losses

STEVE MORRISON, Granada Broadcasting's managing director, yesterday stepped into the dispute over the television station's plan to cut 250 jobs.

There are fears that ITV's most distinguished company may be abandoning its tradition for quality programmes and moving towards becoming a publisher/broadcaster under a new profit- oriented management.

Mr Morrison said: 'We believe this will make us fitter. We have to size ourselves for the future.' Granada faced major competition for advertising in the North-west and thought revenue would go down in the future.

Mr Morrison said the cutbacks were 'not a fire sale', but were going through while the company was strong to make it more robust. The company employs 900 permanent staff and 400 freelances. He expected to maintain the pounds 70m of programmes to be supplied to ITV's network in the forthcoming year, and increase it under the new central commissioning system.

Mr Morrison said that Ray Fitzwalter, the former editor of World in Action, champion of investigative journalism and head of current affairs, 'has got a job' at Granada, even though his department has been subsumed in a larger one devoted to a wide range of factual programmes. 'We are going to continue to make tough, popular journalism, investigative current affairs, quality drama.'

The World in Action team would be adding to its output with undercover films, building on the success of 'No Fixed Abode' about a former guardsman living rough. Granada has seen an exodus of executives following its successful franchise application last year. Several have left the board, including David Plowright, chairman; Andrew Quinn, managing director; Malcolm Wall, director of sales; Tony Brill, director of facilities (leaving this Christmas); Vivien Wallacem, director of international sales; Alastair Mutch, company secretary; Don Harker, director of public affairs (due to retire); Denis Flach, director of business development (retirement).