The Reading Room

ITN News fights back

The appointment of Laura Kuenssberg as ITN’s new business Editor shows that channel 3 (as I used to call it) is serious about making itself a respected national news outlet again. I can’t remember exactly when but at some point ITN news became a bit of a joke – particularly when it couldn’t even make its mind up about what time to air its late evening news. Then there was Tonight with Trevor MacDonald which was ITN trying to squeeze the last droplets out of a respected but ageing broadcaster rather than any serious attempt to capture a new audience. In the mean time, Sky News was hoovering up viewers across the land and the BBC was reinventing itself, rather effectively it has to be said, for the digital era. Recently, it feels like only these two heavyweights remain in the ring to fight it out for the undisputed champion of TV news.

But I was pleasantly surprised by ITN’s coverage of the Royal wedding. The coverage displayed a mixture of good humour and professionalism which has traditionally been the hallmark of the BBC. The recent promotion of Keir Simmons from London Tonight to ITN News Editor has made a difference too giving their news offering a much calmer feel. Watching ITN News a couple of years ago felt like there were too many hot lights, dark colours and over dramatic tunes. At times it felt like being inside a pressure cooker (similar to ITV’s football programmes). Someone needed to let out the steam.

Laura Kuenssberg’s addition will give BBC and Sky something to really think about. She was easily the BBC’s star performer during the last general election. Her ability to keep talking live to fill air time whilst nothing was actually going on behind her was one of the highlights for me alongside Adam Boulton losing the plot with Alistair Campbell live on air. The business brief will be new to her but she can make it her own as ITV haven’t had a Business Editor for years.

I have a feeling she will be back at the Beeb one day just like a certain Nick Robinson who moved to ITV when his path was blocked by Andrew Marr but was soon back demanding a much higher wage. Kuenssberg could easily do the same but I am just glad that ITV have started picking star players again. With the confirmation of News International taking over BSKYB and channel 4 News ratings plummeting I suddenly find myself rooting for ITV in a way I never did when the best thing they could offer was Saint and Greavsie. PS

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