ITV News Channel
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|Headquarters||ITN Studios, London|
|Picture format||576i (SDTV)|
ITV plc (2004–2005)
|Launched||1 August 2000|
|Closed||23 December 2005|
|Replaced by||ITV4 (6pm–6am)|
|Former names||ITN News Channel|
(Aug. 2000–Sept. 2002)
|Availability (At time of closure)|
The ITV News Channel was a 24-hour television news channel in the United Kingdom which broadcast from 1 August 2000 to 23 December 2005. It was available on Sky, NTL:Telewest, ITV Digital (until 2002), Freeview (latterly only between 6:00 am and 6:00 pm when ITV4 cut its hours to half day in 2005) and analogue cable, presenting national and international news plus regular business, sport, entertainment and weather summaries. Priority was usually given to breaking news stories. There was also an added focus on British stories, drawing on the resources of the ITV network's regional newsrooms.
The channel launched on 1 August 2000 as a joint venture between ITN and NTL as the ITN News Channel. In June 2002, Carlton Television and Granada Television - the predecessors of ITV plc - bought out ITN's 65% stake. This led to a rebrand as the ITV News Channel in September 2002. In April 2004 the newly created ITV plc bought NTL's 35% stake to assume full control of the channel.
As the ITN News Channel, it was broadcast from a small studio with accommodation for only one presenter at a time. When relaunched as the ITV News Channel, it initially used the standard ITV News studio of the time, which was built for fixed length bulletins only, so the style of presentation was always more basic than that of its competitors.
From the February 2004 relaunch, the channel came into its own. Along with the rest of ITV News, the channel was presented from the so-called "theatre of news" set, a large virtual studio allowing presentation either from behind a desk or by presenters walking around, using the news wall to explain a story with the aid of graphics. For the first time, two presenters could present the channel together, which the management viewed as an improvement.
As the channel shared facilities with ITV News bulletins on the ITV network (which were also simulcast on the news channel), it had to move to other studios for around an hour before each ITV bulletin to allow for rehearsals. Initially a single locked-off camera studio was used at these times, which was very basic. Later the channel used a virtual reality studio at these times or, following ITN's takeover of the production of London Tonight, that studio.
News content and programming for the channel was provided by ITN.
The channel used to broadcast live UEFA Champions League football matches whenever two British teams were playing simultaneously. When a breaking news bulletin was being reported, the news report would take the full screen while the football would be shown in an inset in the corner.
During the period as the ITN News Channel, its pool of presenters were from across the ITN programme portfolio of ITV, Channel 4 and Five News, along with occasional freelancers. Presenters included John Suchet, John Nicolson, Leyla Daybelge, Alison Bell, Andrew Harvey, Sharon Grey, Owen Thomas, Ian Axton, Kirsty Lang, Simon Vigar, Lloyd Bracey, Sasha Herriman and Rachel McTavish.
When the channel became the ITV News Channel, presenters from ITV News on the ITV Network began presenting the news channel. For the first month of so before any regular appearances occurred, many reporters also presented on the News Channel, including Ros Childs, who presented after John Suchet on the first day as the ITV News Channel. During the Iraq war the well-known British newscaster Angela Rippon presented on the channel and then went on to host a regular weekend programme in 2004 and 2005.
Following the February 2004 relaunch, presenters included ITN veteran Alastair Stewart who hosted the flagship Live with Alastair Stewart programme every weekday morning. Andrew Harvey, Lucy Alexander, Leyla Daybelge, Chris Rogers, Phil Gayle, Owen Thomas and Sasha Herriman were also used. All of ITV News' main presenters, except Trevor McDonald, also appeared on the channel. Presenters from ITV's regional news programmes and freelancers regularly appeared on the channel at weekends and holiday periods.
In December 2005 Scott Chisholm, part of the original 1989 Sky News team, joined the channel to present the breakfast programme. The programme lasted just two weeks.
From the 2 February 2004 relaunch, the channel's typical weekday schedule was usually the following:
- 5.30am: ITV Morning News, simulcast live with ITV1
- 6.00am: Repeats of ITV Early Morning News
- 7.00am: ITV News Live with Lucy Alexander and Andrew Harvey
- 10.00am: ITV News Live with Alastair Stewart
- 11.45am: ITV News Live with Andrew Harvey (would include PMQs at 12.00pm on Wednesdays)
- 12.30pm: ITV Lunchtime News with Nicholas Owen, simulcast live with ITV1
- 1.00pm: ITV News Live with Nicholas Owen and Leyla Daybelge
- 2.00pm: ITV News Live with Steve Scott and Leyla Daybelge
- 3.00pm: ITV News Live with Mark Austin and Mary Nightingale
- 4.00pm: ITV News Live with Steve Scott and Felicity Barr
- 5.30pm: ITV News Live with Leyla Daybelge
- 6.30pm: ITV Evening News with Mark Austin and Mary Nightingale, simulcast with ITV1
- 7.00pm: ITV News Live with Joyce Ohajah
- 8.00pm: ITV News Live with Felicity Barr
- 9.00pm: ITV News Live with Steve Scott
- 9.30pm: ITV News Network with Steve Scott, broadcast from the London Tonight studio
- 10.00pm: ITV News at Ten with Steve Scott, broadcast from the London Tonight studio
- 10.30pm: ITV News at 10.30 with Trevor McDonald, simulcast live with ITV1
- 11.00pm: ITV News Live with Joyce Ohajah
- 1.00am until 5.30am: Repeats of the ITV News at Ten with live news summaries on the hour
On some weeknights they would simply rerun the 11.00pm hour through the night with live summaries on the hour.
On other weeknights they would have a live 30 minute newscast with in view sign language, which would then be repeated through the night with live summaries on the hour.
At times of breaking UK news of major Australian importance (such as terrorist attacks), the channel was sometimes relayed by Australia's Nine Network. However, the Nine Network usually preferred the Sky News feed, to which it had equal access.
On 15 December 2005 it was confirmed that the channel would close down in 2006, in order to use its Freeview bandwidth (which was already timeshared with ITV4) to launch the CITV channel based on the existing CITV brand, and to use its funding to boost ITV News coverage on the main ITV Network.
The closure was subsequently brought forward and the channel closed down on Friday 23 December 2005 at 18:00 (GMT). The reason given was that it would have been unfair to expect the channel's staff to work long hours over Christmas knowing that the channel would soon be closing.
The schedule for the last day of transmission on the ITV News Channel:
- 7am: The Scott Chisholm Show
- 10am: ITV News Live with Alastair Stewart
- 11:45am: The Scott Chisholm Show
- 12:30pm: ITV Lunchtime News simulcast
- 1:30pm: ITV News Live with Faye Barker
- 3pm: ITV News Live with Nicholas Owen and Nina Hossain
- 4pm: ITV News Live with Owen Thomas and Faye Barker
- 5:30pm: SPECIAL: 5 Years Of the News Channel, presented by Alastair Stewart.
At the end of the final programme, Alastair Stewart closed the channel with the words:
So that's the end of five years broadcasting as the ITV News Channel. Our thanks to all our contributors, studio and production staff, to all the reporters and correspondents and everyone who made the channel the professional and effective operation that it was. But most of all, you, our viewers. A big thank you to each and every one of you. We hope we both informed and occasionally entertained you over the years. It was our mission to bring you the fastest breaking news and the most comprehensive analysis. We hope that you'll think we succeeded.
The picture then faded out to a blank screen three seconds before fading back in to the ITN end board. The station closed shortly afterwards.
On 15 June 2007, ITN chief executive Mark Wood said the company would not rule out launching another 24-hour TV news channel.
In 2007 there was some speculation that cable group Virgin Media was considering launching its own news channel to rival Sky News and BBC News, with some reports suggesting that it might look to partner with ITN, but, to date, this has not occurred.