Channel Four News 

2 November 2022


Television & Radio 1983 cover

From Television & Radio 1983, published by the Independent Broadcasting Authority in December 1982

ITN’s Channel Four News programme is the first regular hour long news programme broadcast in Britain. It goes out at a peak time – 7 to 8 p.m. on Mondays to Thursdays and 7 to 7.30 p.m. on Fridays when it shares the Channel 4 news hour.

ITN’s programme uses the additional air-time to develop a distinctive approach to the news that combines analysis with revelation, broadens the treatment of major stories and increases attention to such specialist areas as the economy, science, technology and the arts. Foreign news coverage has also been increased with, again, greater emphasis on the background to major events of the day.

Although the Channel 4 programme has drawn upon ITN’s existing coverage of events at home and abroad, a special team was recruited by ITN’s Editor, David Nicholas, to handle the new programme. This is headed by Derrik Mercer, formerly Managing Editor (News) with the Sunday Times and now ITN’s Associate Editor (Channel 4). In all, more than 100 new jobs were created by the new programme, of which around 30 are editorial posts.

Areas of particular attention within the programme are the economy and foreign news. On the economic front ITN has demonstrated that there is more to industrial news than strikes or disputes, and more to financial news than the movements of share prices. In this area, as many others, the programme adopts a less insular approach than previous time constraints generally allowed.

The foreign coverage, in addition to providing a foreign perspective to domestic problems, regularly features reports from overseas broadcasters. But the Channel 4 unit itself mounts its own foreign coverage with, in particular, closer attention to Europe.

Arts news is reported more regularly for the first time in daily news bulletins. Derrik Mercer says: ‘I believe that intelligent and lively coverage of the arts is very important for us – not only in its own terms but to make the programme as a whole less two-dimensional. Too often the pressure of too many events and too little time mean that the news is full of topics viewers feel they ought to know about rather than topics they want to know about. Covering the arts leavens the mix and broadens the appeal’.


Courtesy of Channel 4 News


The programme uses film reports, studio analysis and live interviews to provide a multi-faceted approach to the major issues of the day. The presenters – Peter Sissons, Sarah Hogg, Trevor McDonald and Godfrey Hodgson – play key roles, acting also as front-line reporters and leaders of specialist teams within the overall Channel 4 unit.

Along with ITN’s major contribution of news for Channel 4, each nightly hour contains an opinion column from a speaker chosen by Channel 4 independently of ITN. And the second half of each Friday’s hour is handed over to ‘Friday Perspective’, from a new independent company, Diverse Production, which provides a very important opportunity to report from different viewpoints, offering alternative perspectives on some stories and the first coverage of stories all other journalists might have neglected.


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