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Melvyn Bragg attacks Government over ITV restrictions

LONDON - Melvyn Bragg has hit out at the Government for the "completely ridiculous financial restrictions" it imposes on ITV, following the axing of the broadcaster's flagship arts programme 'The South Bank Show'.

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Bragg told BBC Radio 4's 'Front Row' that ITV had experienced "crunch after crunch after crunch" and called on the Government to drop its financial restrictions on the broadcaster.

ITV is currently campaigning to be released from its CRR advertising restrictions, which means it has to continually increase audiences to hold onto its revenue.

Bragg said that the Government was so slow to remove the restrictions that "they are going to kill off various parts of our life and ITV might be one of them".

Bragg said he had decided to leave 'The South Bank Show' after ITV told him they could no longer manage to produce the programme "in the way it has been done or in ways they want to do it".

Bragg said that the demise of the programme would create the "difficult situation" where the BBC is the only provider of arts programmes in the UK.

He told Radio 4: "Television all over the place is changing and I'm not going to be one of those guys who says it's changing for the worse. Some things are better but, yeah, it's going to be without arts programmes."

Bragg's comments appear to contradict ITV's assertion that it "will be looking at opportunities for new arts programming".

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