Channel dangling in twilight netherworld

Television news never sleeps. Except on ITV’s rolling channel, where it now gets its head down for some quality kip at 6pm.

News
junkies getting in from work will now be faced with either tuning to
the BBC or Sky for a quick update, or have to make do with the
excitement of ITV4, which took the news channel’s place on Freeview on
Tuesday night. Or waiting until 6am the next morning, when ITV News
Channel wakes up again.

The timing is significant. It not only
comes at a time when Sky is ploughing more cash into its relaunched
all-day-and-all-of-the-night offering, but when the BBC is also making
big moves. It is planning to put its 24 channel at the heart of its
news operation. No longer will the star names be excused rolling-news
duty to work on their packages for the One, Six or Ten. They’ll be
expected to muck in and break their stories on News 24 just like
everyone else. That strategy makes good sense. In the multichannel age,
appointment-to-view news is unlikely to play such a big role in
people’s lives as it did in the days of Reggie Bosenquet.

So where does that leave the ITV News Channel?

Some
of its journalists feel they’d rather have been put out of their misery
completely than be left dangling in this twilight netherland. It
reminds some of the News at When fiasco that so hurt its flagship
terrestrial bulletin.

And as for the commercial logic it is, as
Ian Richardson says on page 14 about the BBC’s new Middle Eastern TV
service, like building a house and trying to save a few bob by only
living there in the morning.

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