Tories to thwart funding proposal for regional news

The Tories have promised to block the government's proposal for funding regional TV news programmes.

The shadow culture secretary, Jeremy Hunt, has said the party will prevent the proposal from becoming law and get it removed from the digital economy bill. He has consistently opposed the idea of giving subsidy to independently funded news consortiums for providing regional news bulletins to ITV.

Ben Bradshaw, the Culture Secretary, has in turn accused Tories of trying to destroy regional news on ITV, driven by "free-market fetishism."

The Tories have the power to block the proposed legislation or force amendments as their support is needed to steer the bill through parliament before the elections.

Labour had plans to replace ITV's news services with bulletins provided by independent news consortiums because the broadcaster can no longer afford to produce them on its own.

The government has selected Scotland, Wales and the north-east of England to implement its pilot schemes that are expected to cost around £20m a year.

Hunt, who advocates reform of media ownership laws, wants a market-led approach to supplying regional news.