ITN appointment reinforces power of sports news

ITN, despite job cuts in other areas of its operation, has underlined the importance of sports news in its broadcasts by advertising for a new sports correspondent.

The ad, posted today, was planned before of a weekend when a terror attack on the Togo team bus at football’s African Cup of Nations and the big freeze in British sport managed to dominate the television news bulletins on all channels.

“It’s a high profile role in an area of news we think is very important to the News at Ten audience,” Robin Elias, ITN’s managing editor, told

ITV owns 40 per cent of ITN, with Daily Mail & General Trust, United Business Media and Thomson Reuters holding 20 per cent each. ITN provides news bulletins for ITV and some of its regions, as well as producing Channel 4 News, but was hard hit last year by the loss of its contract to produce Setanta Sports News and the halving of C4News‘s output.

As a consequence, ITN announced 20 job cuts at the end of November.

The ITN sports correspondent’s post will look after the news provider’s output on ITV1, and is a replacement for Richard Pallot, who an ITN spokesman said is “to be given a wider brief” on news.

One of ITN’s first “newscasters” when independent television launched in the 1950s was a sportsman, Chris Chataway, the pacemaker in Roger Bannister’s first sub-four-minute mile, while more recently its sports correspondents have included Graham Miller, Tim Ewart and Mark Austin, who have also had news and presenting roles.

The ITN appointment comes less than a month after the BBC named David Bond as its second Sports Editor, while Orla Chennaoui was appointed by Sky News six months ago as its first Olympics reporter.

It seems possible that some of those mentioned as being considered for the BBC post, such as Adam Parsons, now the BOA’s head of communications, Dan Roan, who has recently been working in BBC radio after being made redundant at Setanta, and Claire Balding, could be in the running for the ITN post.

One outsider may be Sue Turton, whose sports coverage at C4News won several awards, but who took voluntary redundancy from the programme last month.

Elias acknowledged that sports news is an evermore important facet of his programmes’ agenda: “This is a time when sport and news are increasingly overlapping,” he said, “especially with a World Cup this year.”

□ The BBC starts a regional Football League show, Late Kick-Off, next Monday, January 18, on BBC1, at 11.35pm.

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