Labour attacked over TV 'sell-out'

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Indy Politics
A LABOUR MP has accused the party's front bench national heritage team of selling out to the Government at a crucial stage of the negotiations on takeovers of the ITV companies.

Brian Sedgemore, Labour MP for Hackney South & Shoreditch, who formerly worked for Granada television, claimed that Labour's front bench had helped the Government in its 'carve up' of the ITV 3 network.

Wednesday's announcement by Peter Brooke, Secretary of State for National Heritage, could see all six of the smaller companies bought out next year and, subject to the passing of a parliamentary order, takeovers of the nine large companies by each other.

Robin Corbett, Labour's broadcasting spokesman, was quoted in Broadcast magazine saying that Mo Mowlam, shadow Heritage minister, and party leaders were contemplating a 'mid-course correction,' adding: 'It is true that we are reviewing policy because of the intensity of the competition the industry is likely to face.'

Labour's stated policy was to back a legislative moratorium preventing takeovers of the small six companies, and to oppose takeovers of the big nine by each other or by foreign companies.

Labour will vote against the order paving the way for the latter, but Mr Sedgemore claimed in a constituency speech last night that Labour's policy was seen as a 'shambles' in the run-up to the crucial announcement by Mr Brooke, who was formerly on the defensive, and that the magazine interview sanctioned policies 'made in the boardroom of Carlton, Granada and Central TV'.

Ms Mowlam dismissed the attack as ludicrous. 'The policy of the party is to continue the moratorium for at least a year,' she said. She was also continuing the policy of her predecessor, Ann Clwyd, in pressing for a review of rules on cross-media ownership.

'My personal view is that politicians are not keeping up to speed with changes in the market place,' she said. 'My personal view is that we should have a change of policy. The reality is that we haven't'