THE two ITV commercial television stations broadcasting to West Somerset viewers have been fined a total of £40,000 for not spending enough money on local programmes.
The broadcasting regulator Ofcom said ITV West and ITV Westcountry had failed to invest at least 50 per cent of their budgets on programming outside the London area in both 2007 and 2006.
Licensees for the ITV regional stations stipulate a minimum level of investment required for programmes produced outside the M25.
An investigation by Ofcom also found some ITV programmes made in London had initially been misallocated as ‘out of London productions’ when they were audited.
The out-of-London quota applies by both value and volume of programming and although ITV met the 50 per cent volume quota in both years, it failed on the value test.
The proportion of investment outside London in 2006 was only 45.6 per cent and fell further to 44.3 per cent in 2007.
Ofcom’s content sanctions committee, which issued the fines, noted that in both rulings the breaches had been repeated, with the size of the shortfall against quota greater in the second year.
ITV West and ITV Westcountry were each fined £20,000, as were each of ITV’s other nine regional stations.
ITV executive chairman Michael Grade said: “This fine is yet more clear evidence that the regulatory burden on ITV is 20 years out of date.
“Our duty is to invest as efficiently as possible in UK production, not to be an instrument of Governmental industrial policy or social engineering.”