Central TV broadcaster Arti Halai has been axed as Birmingham’s early morning presenter after seven years in the high-profile job.
The TV star is one of dozens of Central employees being let go across a range of departments as the channel battles against a vicious advertising downturn. Popular weathergirl Emma Jesson is also leaving as part of the latest jobs exodus.
Arti, who learnt of her fate in a telephone call from her Head of News Alan Rook, said she was disappointed to be leaving the Gas Street studios.
“I think they showed me a lack of respect. Decisions like that should be made face to face, but that’s life – you just have to get on with it,” she said. “I don’t think it’s a reflection of my abilities – I have been doing the job for years. Maybe they want a fresh face, maybe they want something different.”
Arti, aged 38, had had to apply for her own job, along with dozens of colleagues, as part of plans by ITV to shed around 60 posts across Birmingham and Nottingham as the two areas merge.
“I am not really in a position to say what I plan to do. I will be looking at other avenues. I have a very nice following in the area. I always think that when one door closes, a lot of others open, and the key is not to focus on the door that closes.”
Arti, who has her own media training company, said she had no plans to leave the West Midlands.
“My business is established in this part of the world. This is my adopted city – I do not plan to do a runner. It’s going to be a very different set-up at Central. I wanted to be part of it, but it was not to be.”
As well as Arti and weathergirl Emma, another long-established face at Central Tonight, former ITN man Eric McInnes, has been told he is to be made redundant, while former Central Tonight co-presenter Joanne Malin has already left to join Radio WM.
Meanwhile, more cuts could be on the way at the Birmingham studios after parent group ITV revealed it was calling in consultants to pinpoint further cost savings across the group.
John Cresswell, the group’s chief operating officer, has written to staff to say more savings are required as the advertising market continues to suffer.
In a memo, Mr Cresswell said: “The need for action is therefore urgent. We need to accelerate our plans to improve the efficiency of all our operations now.”
It is understood that around 36 journalistic staff will be left to cover the whole of the merged region when Central Tonight is reduced to one programme covering east and west, from the Welsh Borders across to the North Sea coast.
Chairman Michael Grade has already said he is looking to slash up to £40million from an annual £120million outlay on regional news – and now more savings look inevitable.