ITV's due care and attention when it comes to UTV is just shocking (for such a massive company)....
Actually, speaking as someone from UTV land, I find the overall presentation of the channel has been significantly enhanced since the takeover by ITV plc.
The playout arrangement for the main channel is probably the most complex of any UK channel. The odd error here and there is to be expected.
I'd say the period of UTV branding of idents and all trails in the ITV plc era took quite a bit of effort from ITV playout. And I have nothing but admiration for them for how polished the continuity elements looked on air. Errors were rare.
As others have said, there are very sound business reasons for the consolidation of playout services. ITV is a business. If I were looking at the hard facts - most notably, there was no negative impact on UTV ratings as a result of the introduction of network continuity - I'd have to question the logic of continuing with special playout arrangements for UTV. Particularly at a time when revenues are down. Whether you like it or not - ITV is about ratings and revenues.
As for the Julian/Gillian discussion - Julian had a very good innings. His 'Coronation Street' announcements were not universally enjoyed by everyone in NI. Away from those announcements, his scripts were rather "safe"/somewhat bland, and had been for many years. I'd also say he lost what "presence" he had when IVC ceased.
There are people on here who feel such comments are nasty/personal. Unfortunately, life sometimes isn't all nice, pretty and simple. There are sometimes hard facts that need to be faced. If you were running a company and the money was coming out of your pocket, I'm sure you would want to make sure that the people working for you were always putting in their best effort.
And if people are averse to criticism - here's a quick pointer: don't choose a career in broadcasting, where your performance at work is viewed by - and invariably open to the judgement of - the masses. It goes with the territory. That said, I do not condone the hateful, disgraceful and completely unconstructive comments that often appear on social media.
I'm sure Julian is a perfectly nice chap and I wish him well in his retirement. I'm sure we'll be hearing more from him.
As for Gillian - her style was more modern and not unlike what we'd hear on some national channels - but she still had a local touch. Sad that she's been a casualty of the streamlining - but, as I say, this happens in business, and many of us have been through this type of thing.
Times and technology change. We all have to move on. There was an inevitability about the move to network continuity in NI. However, even if you are of the school of thought that this was always on the cards, ITV allowed for a decent and well executed transition period of UTV branding.
And yes, there are a number of questionable voiceover talents that are popping up as national voices on various channels. Marketing people largely make these decisions now. Trends and styles change yes - but there are some underlying standards that need to be adhered to and enforced...else, we're on a very slippery slope.