Television and radio are incredibly important in today’s world. With the advent of fake news, the rise of populism, and issues such as Brexit being discussed behind the closed doors of Whitehall, the British public needs outlets such as the BBC, ITV, Sky and Channel 4 to stay informed.
For all the criticisms one can direct towards the BBC—whether it’s the licence fee, the salaries of their biggest stars, or the fact that Nick Grimshaw still has a radio show—they have covered the ongoing drama of Brexit in great detail across their range of current affairs programmes.
Over at ITV, meanwhile, we have seen the collapse of the recently re-launched News at Ten. The Nightly Show has replaced Tom Bradby’s programme, and has quickly drawn criticism from almost every corner of the media industry. Whilst it was hoped that the show could become the UK equivalent of CBS’s hit The Late Late Show with James Corden, with its mix of sketches and celebrity chat, it hasn’t quite hit the mark. In fact, David Walliams’ first stint as host was described as “unbelievably poor television” by Buzzfeed’s TV Editor, Scott Bryan.
More recently, the Daily Mail reported that ITV bosses are under pressure to replace the show with the news, after just 923,000 people sat down to watch Davina McCall host Tuesday night’s show. For comparison, the last time the news aired in that slot, it pulled in an audience of 1.7 million.
Regardless of viewing figures, ITV are playing a very dangerous game. While both the BBC and ITV are organised differently and are accountable to different people, side-lining a prime time news programme for a poorly written and produced entertainment show is unforgivable. It’s a huge waste of money too, costing the broadcaster £10m, while Mel and Sue—former presenters of The Great British Bake Off—have already backed out of discussions to host a week’s worth of episodes.
This debacle has illustrated the clash between ITV’s current creative direction and their duty as a national broadcaster: to report the news. Moving the News at Ten is symbolic of their true priorities; they seem to care more about cheap laughs than about serious stories.
Of course, some may argue that ITV has a right to alter its schedule as it pleases, but these reshuffles show a lack of understanding of what the British public deserves during these momentous times of upheaval for the country.
Fortunately, other broadcasters are unlikely to follow suit and downgrade the position of the news. One can only hope that The Nightly Show is moved or cancelled, as then the British public can have the news delivered accurately by one of its major television channels.