England

ITV local news pilot schemes scrapped

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Image caption An action plan for local stations is being considered

A pilot scheme to provide a replacement news service for the Tyne-Tees and Borders region is to be scrapped.

Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt said that it would be "inappropriate" to spend scarce public money propping up expensive regional news services.

The funding will now be used to support the roll-out of superfast broadband.

The investment bank Lazard will examine the potential for commercially viable local stations, and an action plan will be set out in the autumn.

Labour had proposed two other Independently Funded News Consortia (IFNCs) to replace loss-making regional ITV news services in Scotland and Wales.

At the time, the Conservatives described the plans as updated and warned they would be scrapped if the party came to power.

On Tuesday Mr Hunt also said he would ask media regulator Ofcom to look at the case for removing all cross-media ownership rules at a local level, and at options for supporting new local TV stations in towns and cities.

He said: "We are driving forward greater transparency at all levels of public life, and the challenge and scrutiny of local journalists is vital to that.

"I want a modern regulatory environment which will help nurture a new generation of hungry, ambitious and profitable local media companies."

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