The escalation towards war with Iraq, and a corresponding rise in ratings for its evening news programme, has prompted Channel 4 to commission ITN to introduce an afternoon bulletin from the middle of next month.
The additional news coverage will replace the afternoon current affairs programme, Powerhouse.
The new half-hour show will seek to provide more analysis and discussion of news stories with added emphasis on the business and political issues of the day.
Increased viewing figures for Channel 4 News following the Saddam Hussein interview by Tony Benn and the story about the Government’s plagiarised dossier on Iraq secret weapons are cited as reasons for the additional bulletins.
Channel 4 will also use the opportunity to scrap the thrice-weekly Powerhouse and turn the slot into a news programme, while bearing in mind that the bulletin will serve a different audience to the evening flagship.
The afternoon news show will commence its run as a special war bulletin, but Channel 4 intends to keep the programme “beyond the war”.
A spokesman for ITN said there would be an increase in the permanent staff in the Channel 4 newsroom, but numbers are yet to be decided.
By Wale Azeez