ITV West Country
|First airdate||16 February 2009|
|Owned by||ITV plc|
|Website||ITV West Country (East)
ITV West Country (West)
ITV West Country, formerly known as ITV Westcountry and ITV West, was (until 31 December 2013) a non-franchise ITV regional station covering South West England and incorporating the ITV West ('East') and ITV Westcountry regions. With the formal split of the Wales and West Channel 3 licence in January 2014, a separate licence was created for Wales with the West licence merged with that of West Country. ITV West Country thus became a franchise region. Each company that makes up the new region still legally exists. ITV Wales & West Ltd, ITV Wales & West Group Ltd and Westcountry Television Ltd are each, along with most other regional companies owned by ITV plc, listed on www.companieshouse.gov.uk as a "dormant company".
ITV West Country launched on 16 February 2009 (as ITV West & Westcountry), and merged the two regions of ITV West and ITV Westcountry into one amalgamated region. The idea was first proposed following a speech by Michael Grade about regional broadcasting post-switchover at the 2007 Nations and Regions conference in Cardiff. There was speculation that ITV West and ITV Westcountry could merge operations, as part of further streamlining of regional operations, and rumours suggested that, while a newsroom (and separate regional identity) would be retained in the south west, the main Westcountry Live programme would move to a studio alongside The West Tonight at ITV West in Bristol.
On 12 September 2007, ITV issued a statement to the City of London, saying that it wished to reduce the number of news studios from 17 to just 9. Shortly after the broadcasting regulator Ofcom gave ITV plc the go-ahead to merge the two regions.
ITV Westcountry's studio operations were all moved to ITV West's headquarters in Bristol, with the studio facilities at Plympton near Plymouth closed and newsgathering operations moved to a smaller news bureau elsewhere in the city.
ITV West Country produces the local news service ITV News West Country. The main evening programme at 6pm on weekdays includes separate opt-out bulletins for the first 20 minutes from each of the two regions, some of which are pre-recorded depending on the day's news and due to the use of only one presenting team.
The main 6pm evening programme is supplemented by shorter daytime bulletins, with the weekday Good Morning West Country, lunchtime and late night bulletins after the ITV News at Ten consisting of opt-out news for either the 'East' or 'West' of the region. Separate daytime bulletins for the regions were reintroduced in September 2011.
On 23 July 2013, proposals to further expand the sub-regional services were approved. ITV News West Country extended the East and West opt-out services to 20 minutes during the 6pm programme, in addition to separate weekend bulletins for the two sub-regions.
ITV West Country are also required to produce 13 hours of non-news programming a year - currently, the only non-news programme in production is The West Country Debate, a monthly political programme. Other non-news content is included in ITV News West Country.