ITV has announced a major shakeup of its primetime schedule, including the introduction of an hour-long national and international news programme and a move to three hour-long episodes of Coronation Street.
The broadcaster says its extended news bulletin – which will run between 6.30pm -7.30pm – will have “even more focus on reporting from outside of London” and will “reflect the whole of the UK.”
Presented by Mary Nightingale, the show is recruiting 27 new journalists, producers, camera operators and video editors in what ITV bosses describe as “the biggest expansion of jobs within ITV Network News in the past 20 years.”
Audiences in the Scottish STV licence areas will continue to see STV News at Six, Monday to Friday followed by the new hour-long news programme. On Thursdays, STV’s current affairs programme, Scotland Tonight, will move from its usual 7.30pm slot to 8.30pm.
Coronation Street’s new double-length episodes will then air from 8pm on Monday, Wednesday and Fridays, with Emmerdale moving further into peak with a consistent 7.30pm slot.
ITV says audience data shows that audiences prefer longer episodes of the soap.
Announcing the changes, ITV’s Managing Director of Media and Entertainment, Kevin Lygo said: “As viewing habits rapidly change, live audiences to our national and international news programmes remain remarkably strong.
“Our evening news programme reached an impressive 35.6 million viewers in 2021. We are very excited to be announcing this investment in what is an important public service strength of ITV – high-quality, impartial, trusted broadcast journalism – at a time when it could not be more important.
“The nation’s two most popular continuing dramas, Coronation Street and Emmerdale, are fundamental to the success of ITV, and we know that, as with all dramas, viewers increasingly watch them whenever, and however they choose.
“The new scheduling means that viewers can watch them live on TV in one go in a continuous soap fix, as well as on ITV Hub where they are regularly in the most watched shows every month.”