The Government is to close the Central Office of Information (COI) – the department famous not only for dealing with Public Information Films but is also it’s news and press agency across the country. The department expects to lose of up to 400 jobs.
The COI formed in 1946 and is famous for commissioning Public Information Films on health and safety. Such films included “Charlie” the famous cat who told his young owner not to play with matches or go with strangers, and films about road safety and driving safety in the 1960s and 197os became synonymous with its vital work in getting important safety messages to the general public on television.
However less well known is it’s Government press work covering regional news across the country providing news announcements from offices in Birmingham, Bristol, Cambridge, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Leeds, London Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham and Plymouth.
Trade union Prospect said no consultation had been forthcoming and that the news of the closure “had come out of the blue” even following last years cost cutting execise where the agency saw 128 jobs axed, the union said that that exercise ” appeared to be a complete waste of time”.
The COI’s London head office will bear the brunt of job cuts, the union has said.
handles media buying on behalf of most government departments.
As the agency deals with the bulk of the government advertising spend (last year topped £500m) it had this year seen this budget of advertising cut to over £100m.