Letter: Granada's strength in Liverpool

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The Independent Online
Sir: The more people climb on to a bandwagon, the harder it is for the driver - or anyone else aboard - to see where it's heading. So it is with the contributions of Alice Mahon, MP, and Brian Sedgemore, MP, (Letters, 6 March) to the 'debate' about Granada Television.

Having been a Granada journalist, Mr Sedgemore really should know better than to simply repeat, unchecked, the baseless claims of others, in this case fellow MP Ann Clwyd.

For once and - please - for all, it is untrue to say that Granada has closed its 'hi-tech news operation based in Liverpool'. Granada's Liverpool-based news operation remains undiminished and undiluted: in fact, it has been enhanced and expanded. It has grown by providing news bulletins to the breakfast GMTV franchise, and to Granada viewers at night and at weekends.

We may all spin through rose-tinted rewinds of the television of a decade ago: if Mr Sedgemore will put his tinted spectacles aside he'll recall that the early evening programme, plus a lunchtime bulletin, was the regional news then. Today we run morning, lunchtime, afternoon, tea-time, late-night and weekend bulletins.

This non-existent diminution of our output, then, can hardly constitute 'a real blow to Merseyside'. For the record, Granada has more people working every day on Merseyside than at any earlier time, rose-tinted or otherwise.

The detailed questions put up by Ms Mahon about Granada's film ambitions and commitment sadly betray an ignorance of real events, and of the nature of film development.

It is wrong of Ms Mahon to imply that we have abandoned the promise of our application to develop 14 specific films. All of the films listed were put into development - a big investment of skill, time and well over half a million pounds. And we are committed to developing 10 more. But there is not a broadcaster or producer anywhere who can guarantee final production of everything on its development slate.

More important - but unmentioned by those aboard this part of the bandwagon - Granada is currently offering seven films for television to ITV. That is three more per annum than we promised in our application.

Our aim - which is to see a regular TV movie slot created on ITV - is, if anything, more resolute than ever.

Now it may be that the Network Centre commissions none of them, in which case many are unlikely to be made. But that's the nature of film development and we are - and will remain - committed to it.

Mr Sedgemore accuses me of 'bluster and puff' while Ms Mahon implies I mislead in response to Ms Clwyd's claims. Both then go on to give misleading, false pictures of Granada and how it fulfils its licence commitments.

Real, informed interest in the well-being of quality commercial broadcasting is stimulating and welcome. But watching bandwagons being pushed along, fuelled on misrepresentation, is far less rewarding or worthwhile.

Yours faithfully,


Director of Programmes

Granada Television

London, W1

9 March