UTV brand reaching point of no return

Last updated: 5th September 2020.

If you’ve been missing UTV continuity, the next few weeks will be vital. Either the voices of Gillian and Julian – plus the brand – will be back, or it will look like the point of no return has been reached.

ITV’s daytime schedule is now back to normal. From 14th September the structure of the peaktime schedule returns to normal when the soaps go back to 6 episodes per week. UTV’s weekly political programme View from Stormont also returns then.

Tweets from UTV news presenter Paul Clark also suggest normal dual presentation at 6pm will resume soon:

So by 14th September, it looks like there will be a degree of normality around ITV and UTV. The public will see the full return of the soaps as the return of normality on the third channel.

With more people returning to work and furlough coming towards its end, there will come the point when it is harder to say a job is impossible to do. And, from a marketing point of view, would it simply make sense to start making distinct UTV trails again or bring back what can now be described as the old idents?

My own bet is that if UTV continuity has not returned by mid-October, we can assume it won’t be back in the foreseeable future.

Indeed it could be argued that there would be little practical sense in bringing it back until the pandemic is finally over. Imagine: UTV continuity returning for a month then going again should restrictions be re-imposed.

Of course, it’s worth remembering that the broader viewing public will see things rather differently to those with an interest in marketing or pres.

The UTV name itself is not in question at present – if the changes to trails and continuity become permanent, the UTV name would remain within the news, weather and some local productions including UTV Life once it returns.

If this argument sounds familiar, it’s because it echoes what happened in 2002 when regional continuity disappeared in England. The only names to completely disappear then were those of the London stations Carlton and LWT. Other names lived on in regional output – even that of HTV which, despite being retired as a channel name, lived on in news bulletins for another year or so.

For the broad viewing public, the big change on UTV was in 2016 when the announcers went out-of-vision.

Other than pres fans, how many would have a strong opinion now if the current arrangements became permanent, as long as nobody involved lost out personally?




Posted by Andrew Nairn

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