After spending around a year now as a big fan of the ITN News Channel, I think that they need a few changes. And I don't mean simply changing their astons to even worse ones.
Their studio- instead of being a little room tucked away somewhere, it should be right in the centre of the ITN building with a full view of this magnificent structure. Perhaps a large piece of glass (or whatever they use) behind the presenter, but it would be miles better than an obscured view of the newsroom.
The graphics- The actual arrow sequences for the top of and half past the hour, plus the sport, money, weather and the new one for entertainment (anyone seen this? It's good!) are excellent and should stay. Their other graphics need to go, however. They should move the clock to the bottom left corner like Sky News, and make their astons fit with this. Perhaps these could be more curved and with a few arrows depicted in them. As for the side picture-type thing next to the presenter, something a bit more curved would be nice, or possibly something similar to ITV News. The blue colour scheme is fine.
Presenters- these are generally alright, but maybe two presenters in the 8pm to 11pm slot would work. I don't think that this is needed anywhere else as ITN is supposed to be a channel with news updates every half hour, not a rolling news channel with time for banter. It's completely different to Sky News and News 24.
I think the idea behind the ITN News Channel is a good one - the same sort of thing as CNN Headline News, which sets it apart from Sky and N24 and makes it potentially useful in its own right rather than just another rival. However, the graphics are definitely a bit on the dodgy side - what on earth were they thinking when they introduced those horrible blocky astons and other things?. In my opinion, the launch graphics were by far the best, and its gone downhill from there.
I don't have anything against the set, but I've noticed that, when sunlight is coming in the window at the back, it looks great but, when it's dark/cloudy etc, it looks really dull. I think it would look really good if they put in a plasma screen next to the presenter (perhaps on its side) to replace the window captions, and then use a slightly wider angle which could incorporate that cool desk (a bit like the shot they use before ad breaks). As for moving the set to the atrium, the problem is that the inside of the ITN building is actually fairly dull and grey - I think this sort of background would get very boring after a while.
It would also be great if they could make each half hour a bit more fast-paced. I don't know why, but it seems a bit slow to me at the moment. Also, how about a rolling ticker - I can see how this would be irritating on Sky News of N24 but, on a service where you're not likely to watch for more than 30mins, I think it would be useful. CNN Headline News do this sort of thing (including news headlines, sports, weather, market numbers etc).
As for using 2 presenters in prime time, I think this is a great idea - how about breakfast as well? John Suchet & Rachel McTavish at breakfast, and Andrew Harvey & Alison Bell in prime time?
I met Rachel McTavish the other day at ITN and she is a really friendly person!
You lucky git! I like Rachel, she's my favourite newsreader!
Oh yes, I forgot to mention that they need a rolling ticker or something, as you say Mark.
I expect that we will eventually get offshoots from the ITN NC.
Such as ITN Sport, ITN Travel, ITN Business etc etc.
Specialising in just one thing.
But, I do wish that ITN had put a greater effort into the NC.
I think a large desk with two presenters, John Suchet and Julia Sommerville would have made for tough competition against Bob and Anna, for example.
It think what would have been better is for them to start a main Sky News style service and branch out once the brand has become a success, like CNN did.
They should have started with the main service and lauched the 15 min versions later.
I still haven't found out why Sky scrapped plans for their CNN Headline News style channel, way back in 1995/6.
One problem with this is that I don't think ITN own 'The ITN Building' anymore. ISTR that they sold the building off to someone else, and now just rent space in it.
This means they don't actually own the central atrium area any more, though I believe their lease allows it to be used a few days a year for special programmes (like the election - which I heard caused delays when the election was postponed...)
Also - any studio which has real windows is a nightmare to light - as daylight changes light level hugely, and requires skilled lighting and camera operation to compensate... Not something in abundance in a 24 hour channel.
News 24 suffered from problems resulting from daylight on their second set, and almost always had to have the blinds behind the presenters closed during the day as a result.
I like ITN's arrows -- I think they suit the purpose and the wanted look of the channel (eg fast paced news to the point) but I can't understand why the changed all of the graphics and astons? They were SO much better at launch and now they look really cheap. And from what I saw of their election coverage, it looked really bad -- I don't know what they were thinking!
Listen to Rachel Alderson and Anthony Baxter on ITN News Direct 97.3 FM London - they are brilliant!!
As for the ITN building it houses:
ITN News Direct
ITN News Channel
Channel 4 News
ITV News from ITN
and a load of others.
It's a great building and Jon Snow said to me, in that C4 News voice,
'Yes, This is ITN' - he had a sandwich and a take-away coffee in his hand as well!!
I think the situation is the other way round, ITN do own the building but just rent it out to practically everyone.
LWT and ITV and GMG also have offices there.
It used to be the home of The Times, sadly not any longer.
Ah well - I may be wrong - but I'm sure I remember hearing from more than one source that ITN had commissioned the building, but had then sold it on to another company and leased back the space they needed.
ISTR that for quite a while it was difficult to get other companies to occupy the space, and that may have been the reason (the building was costing too much to ITN without any tenants...)
As I say - I may well be wrong - but I had also heard the story about ITN running out of 'atrium' days... then again that may be ITV running out of them?