Centralised ITV continuity showing its flaws

The downside of UTV’s move to network continuity was exposed embarrassingly and painfully on Monday night. Political programme The View from Stormont was referred to as “Views from Stormfront”.

To get the name of any programme wrong is careless. But to get the name of the home of Northern Ireland’s parliament wrong is more than unfortunate.

If the mistake was an honest slip of the tongue, questions must be asked about why the pre-recorded announcement was still broadcast.

But the important thing to learn from any mistake is how to about the same thing happening again.

Should a member of UTV staff – perhaps a news presenter or reporter – record announcements for local programmes?

Do things just need double-checked?

Or should the network announcer avoid talking about UTV programmes? Perhaps simply trailing ahead over the ident before them.

The shift to network continuity and ITV branding has not caused the sky to fall in. The confirmation Julian and Gillian would not be returning led to little other than newspaper nostalgia.

Any interest was soon eclipsed by news of the departure of popular weatherman Frank Mitchell and distinguished political editor Ken Reid.

ITV and UTV will both be keen to stress that the changes to branding and continuity do not affect its ability to provide a good local service or fulfil licence obligations.

But if you wanted to persuade MLAs that nothing had changed and all was well, can you think of a worse way of risking a PR debacle than getting the name of the Parliament building so badly wrong?

Hopefully this mistake will be a one-off and lessons can be learnt.

It’s now nine months since ITV trails and continuity were introduced on UTV. As a channel brand, the UTV name survives in two places. It’s still used in the endboards on local trails and as the channel name on the EPG.

But is its demise there inevitable – at least with the next systems upgrade or brand refresh?

It could be argued that it’s now confusing to have these “legacy” references to UTV as a channel, though virtually everybody will know what’s meant.

But if consistency is key in marketing, a consistent approach to channel branding could be inevitable.

Acknowledgements

FEATURE IMAGE:

PICTURED: View from Stormont titles. SUPPLIED BY: The TV Room. COPYRIGHT: ITV plc.

Posted by Andrew Nairn

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