CLOSE-UP: LIVE ISSUE/TV NEWS - TV news strands are now brands in their own right. Anna Griffiths investigates

In the TV world, news is the new black. Over the past few weeks, announcements about changes to news services have come thick and fast, flinging the days of conventional news into the dim and distant past.

In the TV world, news is the new black. Over the past few weeks,

announcements about changes to news services have come thick and fast,

flinging the days of conventional news into the dim and distant

past.



Last week, ITN appointed Bartle Bogle Hegarty, Lambie-Nairn and BMP

Solutions in Media to develop the advertising and branding strategy for

the launch of its 24-hour digital channel. Only a week before, Sky

launched its own interactive news service, Sky News Active. Viewers can

also tune into BBC News 24, regular hourly news bulletins on terrestrial

TV, and the 24-hour news stalwarts CNN and CNBC - and that’s just

TV.



Channels are increasingly aware that news is a valuable brand in its own

right. Channel 5’s proposed news coverage was a key factor in its owners

securing their licence to broadcast. As ITN’s chief executive, Stewart

Purvis, points out: ’There’s no doubt that a news programme helps to set

the tone of the channel. It shows what things it stands for.’



He adds: ’In a sense, Channel 5 news was the first programme designed

alongside a channel launch. The creative team sat down and looked at

what the channel stood for and what the news should look like. People

have finally twigged that it’s a way of branding the channel.’



Ever-expanding channel capacity and the economies of digital production

have led to the spate of 24-hour interactive news launches. But there is

also the prospect of technological change: people will soon expect to be

able to download news into their phones wherever they are and whenever

they want. Broadcasters are increasingly acting like internet portals,

so their branding is becoming as important and as accessible as that of

the likes of Yahoo!, Lycos or Virgin Net.



John Ryley, the executive editor of Sky News, observes: ’There will be a

greater need for brands. I don’t think the selling of news brands is

unhealthy. Sky’s claim to fame is that you will see it happen live on

Sky, and that’s an incredibly exciting way of branding a channel or

programme.’



With news becoming so accessible, image among the news providers will

become more important - in its marketing, ITN has made much of Julia

Somerville as its anchorwoman.



Steve Kershaw, the managing director of BBH Unlimited, says: ’News can

be more personable and delivered by people that you have empathy with.

That’s the big opportunity for ITN, and using presenters will be part of

ITN’s personality. It’s like looking at what beer you choose to drink:

they all taste very similar but, from an image point of view, Stella is

very different from Kronenbourg.’



Sky is already an established broadcaster with a 24-hour news

service.



ITN supplies news to channels including ITV and Channels 4 and 5, but it

is taking a risk in being a broadcaster in its own right.



However, Ian Dunn, the creative director at Lambie-Nairn, argues that

the strength of the ITN news brand will stand it in good stead. ’By its

very nature, ITN is one of the few brands in the market that specialises

in news. The BBC and Sky have fantastic news, but they do other things,’

he says.