§ Mrs. Ellman
To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what steps she is taking to expand television programme production in the regions. 
§ Dr. Howells
The Government's policy is to retain and strengthen the regional dimension to public service broadcasting to ensure that it continues to meet the needs of different communities and cultural interests. The Communications Bill contains detailed provisions designed to achieve this.
Under the Bill, Channel 3 companies will have targets for programmes produced in the regions for the regions, programmes made regionally for national audiences and investment in programme production in the regions. Channel 4 will have targets for programme production and investment in the regions. Obligations in this area will also be applied to the BBC, through the agreement with the Secretary of State.
In addition, the ITC UK programme supply review was published on 26 November 2002. The review recommended a number of changes to support regional production. We are currently considering these recommendations and will make any necessary amendments to the Communications Bill.