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Independent Television News

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Corporate logo of Independent Television News Ltd
Corporate logo of Independent Television News Ltd

Independent Television News (ITN) is the main supplier of news broadcasts to two British broadcasting networks: ITV and Channel 4.



ITN was founded in 1955 as part of the British commercial TV network ITV. It was formed as a consortium of the initial franchise holders, with former Labour MP Aidan Crawley as Editor-in-Chief. Associated-Rediffusion TV offered the new company studio space in their headquarters in the Aldwych. The first ITN 'newscaster' to present their first broadcast was the champion athlete Chris Chataway.

It has provided the main national news bulletins for the ITV network since that date, though it has no role in the regional coverage provided for each individual station within ITV, which comes from each station's own newsroom, with the exception of ITV London, whose newscast has been run by ITN since early 2004. With the expansion of TV channels in the United Kingdom, it also now provides national bulletins for Channel 4. In August 2000, the organisation launched its own 24 hour news channel which is broadcast on satellite, cable and digital terrestrial.

ITN's monopoly of the UK commercial channel news output was eroded somewhat from January 2005 when Sky News begun to supply news bulletins to five. ITN had provided news services to five since its launch in 1997, when it was known as Channel 5. Sky has also bid to supply network news to ITV but failed when in 2001 ITN was awarded a contract extension to 2008. However, ITV plc has plans to produce news in-house if it does not have full ownership.


ITN began its own 'World News' bulletins in the late 1980s, which were shown around the world on local television channels, particularly on PBS in the US, where presenter Daljit Dhaliwal (now with CNN) enjoyed cult status. These were discontinued in 2001, in the face of competition from dedicated news channels such as BBC World, although it still provides footage to CNN International. Its ITV Evening News bulletin is shown on the Newsworld International cable channel in the US.

In the 1990s, under new ownership, it was accused of abandoning its previous news style, which was broadsheet in style, to mid-market tabloid, with news stories that focused on personalities in the news rather than heavy news coverage. The change in style matched changes in the nature of news coverage on the ITV network, which saw the axing of the long-running and award winning World in Action current affairs and investigative journalism news programme. ITN's most famous news programme, News at Ten was also controversially axed by ITV to allow it to broadcast films without the interruption of a 10 o'clock news bulletin. It was subsequently re-instated after criticism of the replacement 11pm bulletin. The restored News at Ten, was ten minutes shorter than its predecessor and carried less in depth news coverage. It also was broadcast at a later time at least one day a week, which meant it was often referred to as "News at When?". Since March 1999, the name ITN and its logo no longer features in the opening credits of the organisation's bulletins, with the term ITV News assuming prominence instead. The ITN name is now only seen at the end of bulletins.

There was increasing speculation that News at Ten will once again be moved permanently, after under-performing against the Ten O'Clock News on BBC ONE which is broadcast every weekday and on Sundays at 10:00pm. In October 2003, the Independent Television Commission gave ITV approval to move News at Ten to a 10:30pm slot.

The new ITV News at 10.30pm launched on 2 February 2004 (the day that ITV came under the ownership of a single company), and is presented by Sir Trevor McDonald. The programme is longer than its predecessor and carries an integrated regional bulletin. ITV News editors say that they are aiming at a more upmarket audience and the new programme carries a nightly sports roundup, more business stories and a preview of the next day's newspapers.

Similarly, ITN's 24-hour news channel (launched some distance behind the wake of Sky News and BBC News 24) was jointly bought by the main ITV companies Carlton and Granada, and subsequently renamed and re-branded as the ITV News Channel. This has had one economic advantage: the News Channel shares ITV1's news studio and broadcasts simultaneously the main ITV1 news programmes.

As of February 2, all bulletins on ITV1 and the ITV News Channel carry graphics based on the Big Ben clock face, but in ITV's logo colours of blue and yellow, and use a theme tune based on the original News at Ten theme. A small ITN logo appears at the end of each bulletin. This design has been changed to a white-on-yellow shtick with a another variation of the News at Ten theme.

In the early to late-mid 1990s, the ITN bulletins on ITV regularly attracted more viewers compared to their BBC counterparts. However, from the late 1990's, since News at Ten was first axed, the Early Evening News moved from 5:40pm to 6:30pm, and an improved BBC daytime schedule, all of the BBC bulletins have overtaken their ITN counterparts, and continue to lead over them. In addition, the BBC generally gets double the viewing figures that ITV gets for special news reports such as September 11, or the death of the Queen Mother.

In March 2004 ITN took over production of ITV London's regional news programmes, which relocated from their previous South Bank studios to ITN's Gray's Inn Road base.

ITN operates a radio news service on behalf of Independent Radio News, and between 1996 and 2002 owned a share of London News Radio which was based at ITN's Gray's Inn Road HQ and operated the LBC and News Direct London radio stations.


ITN is owned by ITV plc (40%,) Reuters (20%,) Daily Mail & General Trust (20%) and United Business Media plc (20%.) ITV's ownership of 40% of ITN made the 2001 bid from Sky for ITV bullletins highly unlikely to succeed, the network having a vested interest to see ITN continue. The merger between Carlton and Granada to create ITV plc prompted calls for a review of ITN's ownership; as the two companies which exercised control of 20% of shares each would become one company with 40%, effectively taking control of the group.

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Last updated: 08-30-2005 07:48:45