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U.K. indie TV probe set

Gov't to look at programming competish, current quota

LONDON — The U.K. government ordered a review of independent television production Tuesday. Move was prompted by concerns in a report from a committee chaired by producer David Puttnam on the government’s upcoming communications bill, which would change media ownership laws to open up British TV to foreign firms.

Puttnam’s panel argued that before the legislation is in place it was necessary to discover “whether the (independent) market is operating in a fair, transparent and nondiscriminatory manner.”

Culture secretary Tessa Jowell has told the ITC, which regulates commercial TV in Britain, to investigate whether there is competition in programming supply. It must also probe the effectiveness of the current quota — both pubcaster the BBC and ITV must take 25% of their output from indies — and the potential impact of changes to media ownership rules, and how best to encourage domestic TV production.