Bringing back Trevor McDonald “cynical” move by ITN

ITV will need to reinvest in resources that News At Ten enjoyed in the 1990s if it wants to bring back the programme, according to a former senior ITN executive.

Adrian Monck, former managing editor of then ITN produced Five News, was responding to reports today that ITV was moving its main evening news back from 10.30pm to 10pm and bringing back veteran presenter Trevor McDonald. ITV refused to make any comment on the subject today.

Monck told Press Gazette that more drastic measures are needed to improve ITV’s news offering and that the key issue remains lack of funding in news.

‘If you think about what has happened to ITN over the past ten years, ITV has consistently and persistently reduced the amount of money it spends on national and international newsgathering. Bringing News At Ten back would be a fantastic idea if they brought it back with the kind of resourcing it had in the 1990s.”

ITV is also currently awaiting approval from industry regulator OFCOM on plans to cut regional news. The proposal, announced in June, would reduce number of news regions from 17 to nine and cut the regional news budget from £90m to between £40m and £60m.

Monck said: ‘What is happening [At ITN] is you now have a news operation running on £30 million a year, its very cynical to think bringing Sir Trevor back because he’s so well loved will make people happy about the news provision at ITV.

‘What people want to see is quality news, not news where costs have been cut to the core. They want to see ITN be able to do the kind of reporting that its won awards for, and for that it needs money. An announcement like this needs to be made with a promise of funding to ensure that ITN is resources to do the kind of journalism it’s so well known for.”

ITN won a new six-year contract for ITV News earlier this year but announced 64 job cuts, reducing the workforce by 7.5 per cent.

An ITN source told Press Gazette that although that altough journalists welcome the return of the News at Ten will be returning, there is some scepticism about how well a possible relaunch will proceed with reduced resources.

The source said: ‘There is a very small team of journalists at ITV news, I’d say the smallest team in terrestrial news in terms of the number of producers there are working with reporters. Often reporters work on their own.

‘Apart from the big set piece occasions, ITV news doesn’t really break that many stories and the reason is that there are not many journalists working there.”

CLARIFICATION

The statement claim that “ITV has consistently and persistently reduced the amount of money it spends on national and international news” is incorrect according to ITV.

David Mannion, editor-in-chief of ITV News, has pointed out that whilst the overall cost of news provision has fallen, the amount spent on newsgathering has, in fact, increased year on year above inflation for the past three years and will do so again in 2008. He said that this has been achieved by internal re-budgeting and consistent investment in coverage by ITV.

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