ITV daytime changes: ramifications for UK TV continuity?

So the great revamp of ITV’s daytime schedule has happened. Or rather a few tweaks have been made and then skilfully marketed. The big change concerns the rescheduling of Lorraine and the extension by half-an-hour of both Good Morning Britain and This Morning.

But a couple of changes were of note to pres fans – even if they might have passed by the vast majority of viewers. As we anticipated recently, there is no longer any continuity in the morning. There are no idents or announcements until the Lunchtime News at 1.30pm.

The handovers between each programme have also been tightened – credits have been eliminated, endcaps have gone and there are no trails. The aim is to create a seamless schedule and time will tell if the viewers like it.

One of the beauties of live, topical TV is that if things aren’t quite right they can be changed easily. For instance This Morning knows its viewers well so will soon have an insight into what may or may not work best in the first half hour of the extended show.

But there are many interesting points to note. The elimination of pres is not designed to set a precedent but might it still do this? Is this a Trojan Horse?

This Morning and Loose Women are still self-contained programmes even if the last item on This Morning is now a straight plug for Loose Women. If this part of daytime doesn’t need continuity, does the generic afternoon schedule?

This would be a new development on a major British channel – although it should be remembered that back in the day some ITV regions didn’t always schedule announcements between each programme. Sometimes there was no time available or the announcer was not in the booth because of a local news bulletin.

Even the BBC has done this in the past. In the late-80s and early 90s, the 7pm programme came straight off the back of the evening schedule trail.

But ITV’s move is more fundamental – it isn’t about normal junction management or the time available on a particular occasion. It means the only channel branding for seven-and-a-half hours is the DOG and the breakbumper – a first for mainstream British TV. (Trails don’t really count as they might be shown on other channels.)

Unwittingly and unintentionally, another little bit of UTV’s remaining differentiation from ITV has gone as a result. Does this continue to point towards the seemingly inevitable channel rebrand?

The other geeky legacy – the remnants of the 9.25am handover – has also gone. It seems a sensible, practical arrangement has been made with STV which means that part 3 of Lorraine need not start bang on 9.25am – the key thing is the split of advertising minutes. Lorraine’s gallery seem to have as much control over the timing of internal breaks as any other gallery team.

It should be remembered that, outside the STV area, the 9.25am handover has just been a licensing formality for many years. The days when plugs were pulled or pushed, or picture glitches were evident, have long since gone.

Finally a little PR thought: ITV has gained lots of good PR and attention out of tweaks to programmes and schedules which are inconsequential in the grand scheme of things. Why? They were well promoted. Highlighting the all-live schedule gives ITV a good unique selling point. It sells the schedule to new viewers and makes existing ones feel good about their choice.

Never let it be forgotten that this PR and promotion triumph came out of the demise of a programme which threatened the company’s good name and reputation.

Is there a lesson here for the BBC which has been feeling just a bit unloved of late, sometimes completely unfairly?



PICTURED: still from Lorraine title sequence. SUPPLIED BY: The TV Room. COPYRIGHT: ITV plc.

Posted by Andrew Nairn

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