ITV has announced plans to close The London Studios in order to make way for a new, redeveloped headquarters on the South Bank.
The London Studios complex has been a long established home to ITV’s Daytime output, and to evening entertainment shows including Ant & Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway, The Jonathan Ross Show and third party productions such as The Graham Norton Show.
The broadcaster, which is yet to obtain planning permission for the works, says that its London Television Centre no longer gives it the kind of space, facilities or collaborative environment that it needs from a London base, and is it now finds itself fragmented across several sites in the capital, this new proposal would allow it to bring all staff in the city together under one roof.
A statement from ITV says that after "very careful consideration to what our plans would mean for The London Studios (TLS), which would require significant investment to replicate within our redevelopment…we believe that this investment would not be core to the priorities of the ITV Studios business…We’re therefore proposing to close the TLS business and use studio capacity in the external market to meet our future business needs. We’ve spoken to colleagues in TLS and will soon go into a period of consultation on our proposal.
"We believe that any proposed closure of TLS would not happen before Spring 2018."
ITV, which did consider moving to other sites in West (Chiswick Park) and East (Stratford) London before opting for the redevelopment, will continue to have dedicated studios for its Daytime shows Good Morning Britain, Lorraine, This Morning and Loose Women in the new headquarters.
However, the media and entertainment union BECTU has offered a scathing response to the plans, with the head of the union Gerry Morrissey calling the announcement "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.”
A press release from BECTU goes on to say: "The company’s statement to staff talks about plans for ‘a terrific new London home for everyone’. However it’s clear that the company’s current plans don’t include all of the 1,500-plus staff on the Southbank and in fact exclude staff responsible for some of the company’s core output. BECTU will be looking to persuade the company to re-think its proposals."
Audio Media International published a Profile article on The London Studios back in October 2015, which you can read here.