There was talk of a court battle last week as declining viewing
figures for ITV’s Nightly News prompted the ITC to insist the network
bring forward its 11pm news slot.
Many, however, wonder what all the fuss is about. As news increasingly
becomes just another commodity in a multi-channel world, such
terrestrial scheduling skirmishes seem insignificant.
With the launch of ITN’s 24-hour news service later this summer, the
timing of a single news programme seemingly loses its importance.
Wall-to-wall news is now available in almost eight million multi-channel
homes across the UK. ITN’s service will mean multi-channel viewers can
access up to five dedicated channels.
Sky pioneered the 24-hour news channel almost ten years ago. In 1992,
Sky News was unique and recorded its highest weekly reach. However, its
viewing figures began to slip as the market became populated by similar
Euronews entered the European pay-TV arena in 1993, followed by
Bloomberg and CNN two years later.
When its greatest competitor to date - BBC News 24 - launched in 1998,
Sky News’ viewing figures tumbled. BBC News 24 is available free on all
platforms and its presence has reportedly pushed Sky News back into the
red just when it had begun to show profit.
So is there room for ITN’s 24-hour service when the market leader itself
is struggling? With up to 17 hours of daily news programming on
terrestrial channels, viewers must surely be reaching saturation
However, a report by the ITC goes against this. Its findings show that
of all TV programme types, regional news is of most interest to viewers,
with 88 per cent expressing an interest in it, closely followed by
national and international news (87 per cent).
Film was pushed into third place. This suggests news may prove the more
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