The terrible impact of the coronavirus crisis continues to affect TV badly. A number of significant changes to schedules have been made to help protect staff and core programmes.
Tonight it was announced that UTV would temporarily be carrying ITV branding and continuity. This has yet to take effect.
Presumably the move helps minimise the number of staff working in Belfast and in ITV’s promotions unit for now. There is no suggestion the move is a “stealth rebrand”.
Other changes made by ITV include reducing the number of episodes of soaps and repeating episodes of daytime quiz shows and Loose Women.
So how quickly might normality return?
Well this will depend on just how long the severe restrictions on everyday life and economic activity remain. Public health experts have spoken of gradually relaxing the restrictions rather than an overnight return to normality
From a TV point of view, the speed at which normality returns will depend on how long the disruption goes on for. For instance, if the soaps were not to be filming again by June they might have to come off air completely – their return would then take a few weeks. On the other hand Loose Women and Lorraine could be back within days.
Pres fans have speculated since 2016 over whether a full rebrand of UTV was inevitable. They could never have imagined that when the change happened – albeit temporarily – it would be during terrible times when their minds would be on much more important issues.
When the name returns, it will be a sign that so many things of much greater importance are returning too.
PICTURED: UTV ident. SUPPLIED BY: The TV Room. COPYRIGHT: ITV plc.