Broadcast union Bectu has described ITV’s announcement that it plans to close The London Studios as ‘a betrayal of staff’.

ITV has announced that it will close the Southbank based TV studios, home to light entertainment shows including Ant and Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway and The Jonathan Ross Show, before redeveloping the site for its own use.

The redevelopment will not include a significant studio capacity apart from facilities to house its own in-house daytime shows.

ITV will seek planning permission for the move and expects to move its staff to two nearby interim sites as well as its Gray’s Inn Road base while the redevelopment takes place. As the interim bases have no studio facilities, ITV is now looking for alternative studios to host its daytime shows.

An ITV spokesman said: “After giving careful consideration to all London property options, we are planning to build a modern, purpose-built HQ on our existing South Bank site, bringing together all of our London-based staff in one location for the first time.”

Gerry Morrissey, head of BECTU, said: “Today’s announcement is a betrayal of dedicated staff at The London Studios who have worked to build a go-to production facility. Even in the short term the proposal has no logic. Why announce the studios closure when planning permission has yet to be sought and when the redevelopment will not begin until 2018 at the earliest?

“We’ll be asking the questions which need to be asked to shine a light on the plans and to defend the interests of our members. We’d also like to know whether the proposal to close The London Studios is motivated more by the prospect of a possible sale of the company than by sound industrial planning.”

The announcement of the closure of TLS comes hot on the heels of the closure of Fountain Studios in Wembley as well as other high profile TV studio closures.

ITV believes that London Television Centre no longer gives it the kind of space, facilities, or ‘collaborative environment’ that it needs for its London base. It also says that its business is fragmented across a number of London sites and the redevelopment will allow it to bring London staff under one roof for the first time.

The redeveloped building will continue to have dedicated studios for its Daytime shows – Good Morning Britain, Lorraine, This Morning and Loose Women – in the new headquarters.  

ITV also argues that replicating the The London Studios (TLS) in its new development would require significant investment, and that TLS doesn’t fit into ITV Studios core business strategy – to make its own content, showcase it on its channels and distribute it internationally.

The proposed closure of TLS is not likely to happen before Spring 2018.

Staff Reporter

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