§ Mr. Salmond
To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what plans she has to take action to require the ITC to ensure that ITV companies in Scotland do not decrease the number of hours of regional programmes which they broadcast annually. 
§ Dr. Howells
[holding answer 5 July 2002]On 27 May the Independent Television Commission (ITC) published the Charter for Broadcasting in the Nations and Regions, an agreement with the ITV companies to secure a sustainable future for regional programming. The charter includes commitments to guarantee out of London investment, improve scheduling of regional programming and strengthen local accountability. It also involves a greater standardisation of regional programme hours, and therefore some reduction in output that is less well funded and shown at the least accessible times. The ITC considers that the emphasis should be on quality rather than quantity and that the public interest is best served by better funded, more accessible programming. The Department has no plans to intervene.