ITV News Meridian
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|ITV News Meridian|
|Also known as||
|Presented by||Sangeeta Bhabra
(GMB opts newsreader)
|Country of origin||England, UK|
|Executive producer(s)||Robin Britton (Head of News)|
|Location(s)||Whiteley, Hampshire, England|
|Running time||30 minutes (main 18:00 show)|
|Production company(s)||ITV Meridian|
|Original network||ITV Meridian, ITV Central|
|Picture format||576i (SDTV 16:9)|
|Original release||4 January 1993– present|
|Related shows||ITV News, South Today, South East Today|
The news service is produced and broadcast from ITV Meridian's studios in Whiteley, near Fareham with reporters also based at bureaus in Didcot, Brighton, Maidstone, Poole and Reading. The programme is currently EDF Programme of the Year for London and the South East (for coverage of the 70th anniversary of D-Day) and the Royal Television Society's Southern Centre Programme of the Year (for coverage of the Eastbourne Pier fire)
January 1993 – December 2006
Meridian's flagship regional news programme was launched as Meridian Tonight on 4 January 1993 – three days after Meridian replaced TVS. Three sub-regional editions of the programme were simultaneously, from studios in Southampton, Maidstone, and Newbury; the original set design was by Eye-Catching Design. The three original sub-regional services for Meridian News/Tonight were:
- South Coast (eastern Dorset, the Isle of Wight, southern Hampshire and West Sussex), based in Southampton before moving to Whiteley in 2004.
- South East (East Sussex, Kent and southern Essex), based in Maidstone before moving to an industrial estate near New Hythe in 1994. The news gathering operation was moved back to The Maidstone Studios in 2004, though studio production moved to Meridian's new Whiteley base at the same time.
- West (Berkshire, northern Hampshire, Wiltshire and parts of Surrey), based in Newbury. Studio production moved to Southampton in 2001.
ITV Meridian updates during GMTV in the South Coast and West sub-regions were shared while the South East received its own bulletins.
Presentation for all three services moved to new smaller studios at Whiteley, near Fareham on Saturday 4 December 2004; the studios in Southampton and near Maidstone were closed at this time. News gathering operations in all areas were retained.
In December 2006, the updates during GMTV became pan-regional. Weekend bulletins had become pan-regional across the South Coast and South East only, whilst the West retained its own weekend bulletins right up until 3 December 2006, when ITV Thames Valley was launched.
December 2006 – February 2009
On 4 December 2006, the long expected merger between West and the ITV Central South sub-region took place, forming the non-franchise ITV Thames Valley news service, broadcasting Thames Valley Today/Tonight from the same studio at Whiteley. The merger saw Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and the Swindon area being added to the region for news purposes. The former ITV Central South sub-region headquarters at Abingdon was retained as the main news gathering base for ITV Thames Valley, but the studio presentation facility was mothballed.
Bulletins during GMTV became pan-regional across the entire combined ITV Meridian and ITV Thames Valley areas, and branded as GMTV News. Weekend bulletins continued to be separate Meridian News (pan-regional for South Coast and South East) and Thames Valley Today/Tonight services.
February 2009 – September 2013
At the end of 2008, in light of a restructuring through the ITV regional news network, around 100 staff across the three sub-regional news services in South East England were made redundant. A single edition of Meridian Tonight for the entire region was launched on 9 February 2009. Within this, two sub-regions created – West (comprising the former South Coast and Thames Valley sub-regions) and East (South East sub-region).
The then remaining sub-regional elements were:
- The opening 15 minutes of the main 6pm programme.
- Full late night bulletins on weeknights, following ITV News at Ten.
- Localised weather forecasts.
Sangeeta Bhabra and Fred Dinenage are current anchors of the service. Both sub-regional editions utilise exactly the same presenter(s) and studio/set, therefore one of the two opt-outs – depending on the day's news – is pre-recorded 'as live' shortly before broadcast.
In February 2010, the programme won the Royal Television Society's Award for Best Nations & Regions News Coverage. On Monday 14 January 2013, the news service was relaunched and rebranded as ITV News Meridian.
September 2013 – present
On 23 July 2013, proposals for a more localised Channel 3 news service were approved – ITV News Meridian extended the South and South East opt-out services by an extra five minutes during the half-hour 6pm programme, in addition to separate lunchtime and weekend bulletins for the two regions. A Thames Valley service was also reintroduced, consisting of a ten-minute opt out within the 6pm programme for the South and a late bulletin after News at Ten. The two late night bulletins are retained for the South and the South East, in addition to the new Thames Valley bulletin. The expanded sub-regional service launched on Monday 16 September 2013. The Head of News is Robin Britton who previously launched Thames Valley Tonight and the West edition of Meridian Tonight.
ITV News Meridian airs on ITV Meridian seven days a week. On weekdays, a four-minute lunchtime bulletin airs at 1.55 pm, followed by the main half-hour programme at 6pm and an eight-minute late bulletin at 10.30 pm following ITV News at Ten. At weekends, two 5-minute editions of ITV News Meridian are broadcast - one later on Saturday afternoons and another on Sunday evenings.
On weekday mornings, Good Morning Meridian airs short bulletins within Good Morning Britain at approximately 6.05 am, 7.05 am and 8.05 am.
Sub-regional bulletins in the South and South East consist of the first 20 minutes of the 6 pm programme on weekdays and all shorter bulletins. The Thames Valley area receives a ten-minute opt-out during the 6 pm programme and a full late night bulletin on weekdays.
Upon launch of the three regional news services in 1993, Meridian made the decision that all three programmes would share the same titles, music and name. Upon the launch of Meridian Tonight in 1993 until c.1996, the programme titles featured a large translucent Meridian logo flipping over to reveal and yellow and blue map of the region. Accompanied by a trumpeted fanfare the region lights up with several dots, marking Meridian's news-gathering centres, and three pulses marking, Southampton, Maidstone and Newbury: the locations of each of the three programmes. Each respective region would then zoom into their region of the Meridian region before the flipping logo reveals the programme name, separated by a horizontal line, at the end of the sequence.
The title sequence and music was changed c.1996 to a blue and gold background variant featuring a partly obscured circle displaying news related imagery, before flipping to reveal the centre of the Meridian logo falling back into the centre of the line separating the programme name.
The look was changed once again in March 1999 with the new titles featuring a vibrant purple background being changed into yellows and reds to form the Meridian logo. The music remained the same, but was enhanced to be more dramatic with a voiceover at the beginning declaring "This is Meridian Tonight". The programme name now featured the Meridian logo above, or to the side of the programme name and appearing as a DOG in the bottom left corner of the screen throughout the programme. The last Meridian individual look was introduced c.2002 and featured two translucent halves of Meridian's logo merging and moving together against a purple backdrop. The end board of the sequence saw to two-halves move closer against a stripe of red and yellow colour against the Meridian Tonight name.
Following the merger of Granada PLC and Carlton Communications in 2004 to form ITV plc, Meridian has used generic title sequences adopted across the ITV plc network of ITV stations. In 2004, this featured a blue and yellow look concentrating on vertical columns of translucent squares displaying images of the Meridian region, before ending with four square ITV logo over a map of the UK made out of squares. This was altered following the change of ITV logo to a sequence showing footage of the region and ending with the name over a light blue and turquoise cylinder, and further altered in 2010 to match the new ITV News style. This latest style featured a yellow and translucent black colour scheme and again focusing on footage of locations within the region.
- Linford, Paul. "Hold the Front page". http://www.holdthefrontpage.co.uk. Hold the Front page website. Retrieved 13 November 2014. External link in
- "News/Factual/Corporate Set Design". eye-catching design. Retrieved 16 December 2011.
- Seventeen regions into nine: How the updated ITV local news services will run Caitlin Fitzsimmons, The Guardian, 17 February 2009
- http://www.rts.org.uk/Info_page_two_pic_2_det.asp?art_id=8113&sec_id=3888. Missing or empty
- ITV launches rebrand on air and online, itv.com, 14 January 2012
- OFCOM sets out licence terms for ITV, STV, UTV and Channel 5, OFCOM, 23 July 2013
- Hale, Ben; Hackett, Steve. "Meridian News". TVARK: The Online Television Museum. Retrieved 7 May 2012.