Breaking news for Britain

Wednesday, December 14, 2005 by

So, to absolutely nobody’s surprise, the ITV News Channel has been axed, and apart from the unfortunate 25 people who will sadly lose their jobs as a result of this, who will really care? In fact, it says everything about the half-hearted nature of this channel that “only” 25 people will be out of work when the screen goes black at the end of January.

There was never any need for an ITV News Channel. Sky News had established itself as a pretty decent player – breathless and in lots of ways the inspiration for The Day Today maybe, but it was fast, it was reliable and thankfully a long way from Fox News. Then the BBC came along and marked out their own territory – News 24 had its faults, and perhaps still does, but, well, it’s the BBC and so News 24 has the authority that Sky News lacks. If you’ve got a pacy, get-it-first service from Sky, and a more authorititive service from the BBC, what do ITV do?

It never helped that absurd rulings and bandwidth restrictions meant it wasn’t even a 24-hour channel for most viewers. When it launched as the ITN channel on OnDigital in 2000, it was only on screen between 5.30 and 9am. In 2002, it got hauled off the air on cable to make way for football. At one point, it was unavailable to DTT viewers at breakfast time because of some medieval prior claim that GMTV had on those hours. And since the launch of ITV4, Freeview watchers have only had access to it during daylight hours.

Perhaps one way forward for ITV would have been to make it a Sky Sports News-style clone – lots of tickers, fact boxes, flashes, a complete barrage of information. It wouldn’t have been to everyone’s taste, but at least it would have been different. Instead, we got endless Angela Rippon and Alistair Stewart.


2 Responses to “Breaking news for Britain”

  1. Adrian Partington on September 19th, 2008 10:24 am

    I don’t believe there’s any need for 24 hour TV news channels, except during a national emergency – and if there was one, presumably the other channels would switch to rolling news coverage anyway, which rather takes away the news channel’s raison d’etre.

    The danger with insufficient news material, they will simply keep repeating the same stuff ad infinitum, boring everyone rigid..

  2. Nigel Fishwick on September 19th, 2008 11:00 am

    I do like the fact that I can get televised news at any time of the day though, but I do agree with the fact that the same half-dozen stories featuring the same footage and often little in the way of updates throughout the day are pointlessly repetitive.

    I’d much prefer it if a larger portion of the broadcast were given to a wider variety of stories, both local and international. It not like there’s a lack of material.