[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Wednesday, 14 December 2005, 13:27 GMT
ITV's News Channel to close down
ITV News Channel
The ITV News Channel will close in January or February
The ITV News Channel is to close down in the New Year after months of speculation about its future.

The service, which launched in 2000 as the ITN News Channel, has struggled for viewers against competition from BBC News 24 and Sky News.

Doubts about its future were raised last month when its hours on the Freeview service were cut to accommodate the new ITV4 channel.

The money saved by closing the channel will be reinvested in news on ITV1.

New bulletins will also be launched on digital channels ITV2 and ITV3, a bureau will be opened in Beijing, while newsgathering in the north of the UK as well as regional newsrooms across the country will see greater investment.

An ITV spokeswoman said it was hoped new jobs would be found for as many of the 50-60 staff on the channel as possible.

It is due to close in January or February, she added.

The channel was bought in 2002 and relaunched as the ITV News Channel, and joined the Freeview digital TV service, bringing a boost to its audience figures. Well-known presenters such as Alastair Stewart and Angela Rippon also joined the station, which continued to be made by ITN.

Freeview loss

Alastair Stewart, courtesy ITV
Alastair Stewart is one of the channel's most well-known faces
But last month its hours on Freeview were halved to accommodate the new ITV4 channel, which broadcasts in the evenings, hitting its ratings.

ITV director of television Simon Shaps said: "The question we have asked ourselves is what does news look like in five or 10 years' time?

"The answer is that it looks very different from the traditional 24-hour rolling news format that we are used to now.

"Increasingly, viewers will want news on demand via a variety of different platforms and we are investing in the technology and expertise to deliver that."

On Sunday, both BBC News 24 and Sky News achieved ratings of more than four million for their coverage of the Buncefield oil depot explosion in Hertfordshire. But the ITV News Channel had only 1.4 million viewers.

Despite the channel's uncertain future, it relaunched its breakfast programme recently, drafting in former Sky presenter Scott Chisholm to front the bulletin.

'Devastating blow'

It just shows ITV are abandoning their commitment to news
Paul McLaughlin
National Union of Journalists
The National Union of Journalists said it would be holding an emergency meeting.

Broadcasting organiser Paul McLaughlin said: "It is a devastating blow for ITN staff in the run-up to Christmas, a real disaster.

"It just shows ITV are abandoning their commitment to news. They had consistently said they care about it but their actions speak far louder than words."

"We are certainly not going to take this lying down," he added.

But an ITV spokeswoman said: "The opposite of that is true, in fact we will be investing more in our core news services."

ITV said it was looking at options for filling the space on Freeview left behind by the channel, with a children's channel among the broadcaster's planned new services.

ITV trials broadband TV service
18 Oct 05 |  Technology
Stewart makes ITV news comeback
28 Feb 03 |  Entertainment
Ambitious relaunch for Sky News
24 Oct 05 |  Entertainment
ITN joins all-news battle
01 Aug 00 |  UK News
ITV celebrates 50-year milestone
22 Sep 05 |  Entertainment


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific