ANALYSIS: MEDIA TRACK - ITN believes the TV market can support the launch of its 24-hour news channel

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.

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

services.



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

point.



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

popular commodity.





MediaTel’s database is available at www.mediatel.co.uk. For more

information contact 020-7439 7575 or e-mail info@mediatel.co.uk.



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