How a slide show bumps up ITV regional production quota

A night time slide show filler is being blamed for masking a reduction of programmes made outside of London on ITV.

The once regional network of stations, now under the control of ITV plc is still obligated to produce 35% of its shows in the regions, as part of an Ofcom quota designed to support television production across the UK.

The Sunday Times has today cast a light on data that confirms night-time filler Nightscreen, which has occupied the pre-5:00am schedules on ITV for over two decades, accounts for a third of ITV's regionally produced programmes.

Effectively a hybrid of a PowerPoint presentation and Pages From Ceefax, Nightscreen shows slides with still images and information about forthcoming ITV programmes, accompanied by music. It can be shown for hours at a time overnight, and also appears on some of ITV's digital offshoot channels as well.

A slide from ITV Nightscreen (YouTube)

This filler, which is produced in Birmingham, means that from a quota point of view, it appears that ITV is exceeding its regional quota targets and that it still produces many hours of programming from the Midlands.

It's a far cry from when ITV Central, with its former studios in Birmingham and Nottingham, produced many genuine programmes from the Midlands for ITV, including CITV, Blockbusters, Peak Practice and Bullesye.

In response Ofcom said "the scale of the [Midlands] decline is masked by ITV’s Nightscreen, a production which consists of a sequence of animated pages which promote ITV’s upcoming programmes".

However ITV has been told it isn't breaking the current rules.

The BBC has also been accused of abandoning the Midlands, too. Once a major production centre for daytime, drama and factual programmes, such as Countryfile and (ironically) Coast, changes over the years have seen BBC programming from the region cut back to the likes of soap operas Doctors and The Archers. Birmingham-set Peaky Blinders is actually filmed in Northern England. The BBC has sought to cover the cuts by emphasising the arrival of the BBC Academy and the second HQ of online service BBC Three to Birmingham.

  • You can see a list of programmes on the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and 5 that were made outside of London last year on Ofcom's website here.