Reshuffling the news 

13 September 2011

It’s been the way it has been for so long that we just accept it. However I can’t be the only one who finds the fact that at 6pm ITV1 shows the national news after the regional news?

In terms of ordering it seems rather strange – almost curious. That hugely important international and national stories play second fiddle to, well, whatever’s happening in your part of the country. Sometimes those will be major stories themselves. But lets be honest, sometimes they’re not.

Tyne Tees's North East Tonight studio

Of course it all dates back to the fact that ITV’s tea time bulletin was at 5:45, lasted for the whole of 15 minutes and then was followed by up to an hour of regional news. Err. No. That didn’t really make much sense either.

Much of the reason for ITV’s current arrangements lie in the fact that ITV was once a regional network of companies. Regional broadcasting was at the heart of the organisation, and it was a rare ITV company that wanted to play second fiddle to the network.

But ITV has changed. It’s now a single national (well if you call “England, Wales and a slither of Scotland” to be national) broadcaster based in London rather than a network of companies spread across the UK. The old internal politics of the network have mostly disappeared. So no surprise then that ITV is looking at its evening news provision and wondering if it makes sense. And one of the things its looking at is the format of the 6pm bulletin and whether integrating the national and regional bulletins together better makes sense.

Certainly changing the ordering around a little would allow it to compete better with the BBC and allow the programme to have a focus that makes sense, and would mirror that used in other ITV bulletins at lunchtime and late evening.

Without doubt there will be fears by some that any changes could see ITV devaluing regional news however whatever the changes are would still need to play nicely with the non-ITV plc companies of STV, UTV and Channel. STV in particular is unlikely to play ball with any changes that devalue its Scottish output, although that in itself could give it enough incentive to try and bring back the idea of a fully integrated “Scottish Six” news bulletin containing Scottish, national and international news. However change may not necessarily bad and a boost for ITV’s evening news ratings could help ITV’s regional news teams whose 6pm programmes have struggled to compete against their BBC counterparts.

Quite how the changes would play out remains to be seen. At this stage ITV is purely looking at running some pilots and analysing the impact as a full change would require approval from Ofcom.

You Say

3 responses to this article

Arthur Murgatroyd 15 September 2011 at 12:05 pm

It is all just a ploy to put into place the means of seamlessly at some later date of eliminating regional news entirely.

ITV plc want to be a purely national commercial tv network with no regional requirements.

Consider also that HD only is the long term future and that there are only 6 ITV HD regions (same as ITV-1+1) but only (as far as I am aware) 3 ITV regional services broadcast on these — Granada, London, and Meridian.

Joseph Gallant 7 October 2011 at 7:22 pm

Some years ago, NBC looked into the idea of “blending” their affiliates’ local early-evening news with the network’s nightly newscast into a single one-hour programme.

Under this plan, “Nightly News” would have been split into two or three portions, and run as segments within an hour-long early-evening local news bulletin.

NBC abandoned this idea because they discovered there was no way such a format could really work.

Ronnie MB 12 October 2011 at 11:13 pm

Didn’t the BBC try that once? What was it called? Oh, yes! Sixty Minutes! Wonder what ever happened to it??? (Apologies for heavy handed sarcasm!)

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