Wednesday, October 24, 2007

He's Coming Back, In A Way

No not me, Sir Trevor

Back in the 1990's I used to work at ITN, making pieces for the News at Ten. It was a great show to work for; when I joined NAT had some thirty years of breaking stories behind it. I'd grown up watching it, so to actually produce news for it felt amazing.

Then ITV decided to move it in the schedule with the result that it was christened 'The News at When'. People from the BBC came to the office to commiserate on the night we did the last one. The staff were in tears. I was heartbroken, and depressed about the way things were going, so I left the company.

ITV also cut the news budget. Currently it's reported to be around £30m a year, which sounds a lot till you start working out how much it costs to say, cover a Tsunami. Or a train disaster. Or indeed anything that involves sending a lot of people somewhere for several nights with equipment and expertise to produce television news.

The News channel which ITN did for ITV was launched to great fanfare, then closed.

BSkyB, which has its own news Channel, bid for Channel 5's News service and won against a rival bid by ITN. And every time the ITV contract came up Sky would propose doing it for some ludicrously small sum, making ITN pitch its budgetary requirements even lower in order to beat off the competition.

It looked like the end was nigh. If you starve a boxer he can't punch, no matter what his class.

Now Michael Grade, facing a massive scandal over phone in voting, says he wants to bring back News at Ten. He may get Sir Trevor to front it for him, but ITN needs some more cash, as other people are pointing out. A lot of really experienced reporters who brought massive class to the outfit, who actually made the opposition feel under threat, have gone. There's some strong talent there - guys like Geraint Vincent spring to mind - but it's on the young side, and a lot of people have stopped watching. It still has its fantastic editor, David Mannion. Given the chance he could rebuild News at Ten into something unmissable.

So come on Michael, ignore the advertisers for once and get your wallet out. Britain needs ITN.


Anonymous said...

Surely the big difference is that in NAT's heyday the main BBC news was at nine.

Hendo said...

Respectfully no, The big difference is attitude from ITN's client, ITV. The channel used to value news, then decided it didn't and while running down ITN's resourcing went off and paid £120m for Friends Reunited. Logged in there recently? No neither have I.

Anonymous said...