ITV News Meridian
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|ITV News Meridian|
|Also known as|
|Directed by||Alison Nice|
(Head of News)
Programme and Digital Editor
|Presented by||Sangeeta Bhabra|
(GMB opts newsreader)
|Country of origin||England, UK|
|Production 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 –|
|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 bureaux 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 (eastern Dorset, the Isle of Wight, southern Hampshire and West Sussex), based in Southampton before moving to Whiteley in 2004.
- 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, and parts of Wiltshire and Surrey), based in Newbury. Studio production moved to Southampton in 2001.
Three sub-regional editions of the programme were simultaneously, from studios in Southampton, Maidstone, and Newbury. The Controller or News was Jim Raven, who had previously been the Editor of the South-East edition of TVS's Coast to Coast. Three Regional Editors (later Head of News) were appointed to run each of the three news sub-regions, Andy Cooper (Meridian Tonight South), formerly the Editor of Coast to Coast South, Mark Southgate (Meridian Tonight South East), formerly the Coast to Coast South East programme producer and Robin Britton was tasked with launching the new Meridian West service forming the Thames Valley, who had been the deputy-editor of the Meridian South programme, the third sub-region was Meridian's trump card, TVS had done a short Thames Valley opt, launched in 1990).
Robin Britton had scope to recruit the best talent not only from TVS, but from the outgoing Thames Television, Cbannel 4 Daily, TSW and TV-AM as well. These included programme producer, Paul Erlam, and Transport specialist, Mike Pearse, from Thames TV, Alison Black from C4 Daily and Peter Brookes from TV-AM. The presenting line-up for each news service reflected continuity and change. Meridian South went on-air with Fred Dinenage (TVS & Southern) and Debbie Thrower (BBC), Meridian South East's hosts were Mike Debens (TVS) and Alison Holloway (Sky, ABC) and in the Thames Valley, Andy Craig (Central) partnered Mia Davies (TVS). Carl Tyler did the weather for Thames Valley and South and Ron Lobeck was also retained for the South East.
Andy Cooper also took advantage of the franchise changes, hiring the very experienced Nick Myers, from TV-AM and moving Steve McDonnell from current affairs at TVS back into the newsroom, this time as a programme producer alongside Myers. Mark Southgate also brought new blood in including the journalist Marc Percy - the three new look programmes were hosted from an original set design was by Eye-Catching Design. The three original sub-regional services for Meridian News/Tonight were:
South (eastern Dorset, the Isle of Wight, southern Hampshire and West Sussex), based in Southampton before moving to Whiteley in 2004. 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, and parts of Wiltshire and Surrey), based in Newbury. Studio production moved to Southampton in 2001. ITV Meridian updates during GMTV in the South and West sub-regions were shared while the East received its own bulletins. ITV Meridian updates during GMTV in the South and West sub-regions were shared while the East received its own bulletins.
Jim Raven, Robin Britton, Andy Cooper and Mark Southgate were delighted to win the Royal Television Society's Nations and Regions Programme of the Year - in the February following the new licence's launch - the only time three programmes have tied for the top prize,
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. Meridian's flagship regional news programme was launched as Meridian Tonight on 4 January 1993 – three days after Meridian replaced TVS. Presentation for all three services moved the first fully digital newsroom in the ITV-owned regions, at Whiteley, near Fareham on Saturday 4 December 2004; the studios in Southampton were sold off for a reported £5 million for domestic housing and the studios near Maidstone were closed, the Meridian team in the South East moved back to the Maidstone Studios originally built by TVS and rejected by Meridian when they took over. News gathering operations in all areas were retained.
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. In September 2017 he decided that after 25 years as Head of News for ITV Meridian. it was time to do something different and stood down from his post the following summer. Within weeks he had been headhunted by KMTV to be the Channel Director of the new station. His successor as Head of News is Alison Nice, formerly a Content Editor with ITV Meridian and who had previously worked for GMTV, she was appointed in late Summer 2018.
ITV News Meridian airs on ITV Meridian seven days a week.
- Three short opts air as part of Good Morning Britain at approximately 6:10am, 7:10am and 8:10am.
- A four-minute lunchtime bulletin, following the ITV Lunchtime News.
- The main half-hour 6pm programme, before the ITV Evening News.
- A ten-minute late-night bulletin, following ITV News at Ten.
- At weekends, a short five minute bulletin following the early evening ITV Weekend News.
Current notable on air team
- ITV News Meridian lead presenters
Former notable on air team
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". www.holdthefrontpage.co.uk. Hold the Front page website. Retrieved 13 November 2014.
- "News/Factual/Corporate Set Design". eye-catching design. Archived from the original on 2 May 2012. Retrieved 16 December 2011.
- Seventeen regions into nine: How the updated ITV local news services will run Caitlin Fitzsimmons, The Guardian, 17 February 2009
- https://web.archive.org/web/20100302205223/http://www.rts.org.uk/Info_page_two_pic_2_det.asp?sec_id=3888&art_id=8113. Archived from the original on 2 March 2010. 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 Archived 26 July 2013 at the Wayback Machine, OFCOM, 23 July 2013
- Hale, Ben; Hackett, Steve. "Meridian News". TVARK: The Online Television Museum. Archived from the original on 21 April 2012. Retrieved 7 May 2012.