ITV at 60: ITN also celebrates 60 years on air

Until 1999, ITV news bulletins carried this logo.
Independent Television News - ITN - set up as part of the launch of ITV also celebrates 60 years on air today and it's had a significant impact on UK television news over the years:

On the 22nd September 1955, ITN launched with Christopher Chataway, an athlete who had broken the 5,000 metre world record, becoming the first newsreader on the channel, which was initially only available in the London area.

In 1967, ITN launched its most famous news programme - News At Ten, initially as a 13-week trial to see if viewers would take to 30 minute news bulletin on TV. News At Ten, and its famous theme music - an excerpt from Johnny Pearson's The Awakening, became a staple of ITV schedules for 32 years, becoming the most popular news programme on TV. Presenters or 'newscasters' became famous faces and included Alastair Burnet and Trevor McDonald.

ITN reports became available 24/7 by the late 1970s thanks to teletext service Oracle, which featured stories from ITN from page 101 until its closure on the 31st December 1992.

In 1982, ITN began to supply the news for newly-launched Channel 4. Since then it's provided a detailed look at world news and politics at 7pm, Monday to Friday.

Channel 4 has over the years experimented with other news programmes in association with ITN, varying from the Channel 4 Daily (pictured) in the late 80s to a news programme for digital channel More4 in the 00s, but none have survived.

Over on the ITV Network, ITN launched a morning news programme in 1988, initially starting at 5am. Presenters included Zeinab Badawi, now on BBC World News. The early news was axed in 2012.

By the end of the 1980s, ITN's regular rota of presenters included Alastair Burnet, Sandy Gall, Alastair Stewart, Trevor McDonald, Julia Somerville, Carol Barnes, Fiona Armstrong, John Suchet and Nicholas Owen.

At the same time, ITN branched out internationally, creating World News bulletins for PBS in the USA and pan-European network Super Channel (later re-branded NBC Super Channel). The main Super Channel bullletin was broadcast at 10pm Central European Time, and by the mid-90s, ITN bulletins also featured in the short-lived European edit of NBC's Today programme, which was re-broadcast 18 hours after it first premiered in the USA, with ITN inserts providing more up-to-date news. NBC rebranded the channel to NBC Europe during 1996 and later dropped ITN bulletins altogether.

ITN then went on to secure the contract to supply news to Channel 5, which launched in March 1997. 5 News broke new ground when it featured presenters such as Kirsty Young and Rob Butler presenting the news standing up or perched on a desk. ITN lost the contract to provide the news on Channel 5 at the end of 2004, but regained the contract in 2012.

In 1999, the ITN brand was removed from ITV news bulletins in a major shake up of news on the ITV Network, now under the influence of Carlton and Granada who had taken over the majority of the former ITV regional stations. ITV ditched its early evening news, broadcast at 5:40pm and News At Ten in a controversial move, with the channel launching a new bulletin at 6:30pm mirroring the major US TV networks. A late bulletin appeared at 11pm.

In August 2000, ITN launched its own news channel as a joint venture with cable company NTL. As ITN traditionally supplied news to other broadcasters rather than itself, there were restrictions as to what the channel could actually show. For a short time, the ITN News Channel was broadcast on Channel 5 early in the morning. ITV companies Carlton and Granada bought ITN's stake in the channel in 2002, which was followed by a rebranding of the channel to ITV News Channel, with the channel's content being brought in line with ITV News. The channel fell out of love at ITV, and when the newly formed ITV plc elected to use the ITV News Channel's Freeview capacity to launch ITV3, the service lost most of its audience overnight. Technical improvements restored the ITV News Channel region-by-region on Freeview during 2005, before ITV took away its evening broadcast hours for ITV4. The ITV News Channel closed just before Christmas 2005.

The axing of News At Ten was extremely controversial, and in 2001, the then regulator ITC demanded that the news was restored. It heralded the begin of the "News At When" era, with the news only being at 10pm on as little as three nights a week, and even then not starting punctually at 10pm. News At Ten was cut to 20 minutes.

ITV went on to create a more stable timeslot for the late news, axing News At Ten in favour of a revamped, longer bulletin at 10:30pm in February 2004. In 2008, News At Ten returned and has since remained a staple of ITV's evening schedule.

Between 1997 and 2003, ITN was the largest shareholder in pan-European news channel Euronews, during when excerpts of ITV news bulletins featured in the channel's Perspectives strand, which features news reports from different European channels. ITN sold its stake in 2003 to concentrate on other activities. ITN has since been involved with the short-lived Setanta Sports News and Teacher's TV channels and once supplied the news for commercial radio. In 2004, it took over the running of ITV London's news output.

ITN, originally owned by the various ITV companies as a neutral provider of news for the ITV Network is now owned by a number of shareholders. ITV plc is the largest, having a 40% stake in the company. The owner of the Daily Mail has a 20% share. Thomson Reuters and UBM have further shares in the company.


  • ITV looks back at 60 years of news at 10:40pm tonight as part of its 60th anniversary celebrations.






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