ITV under fire over new regional show

thisisoxfordshire: PEOPLE’S FAVOURITES: Wesley Smith and co-host Mary Green in the Thames Valley Tonight studio PEOPLE’S FAVOURITES: Wesley Smith and co-host Mary Green in the Thames Valley Tonight studio

OXFORDSHIRE viewers have bombarded ITV with complaints over its new local television news programme, which covers much of South East England.

Meridian Tonight merged together the former Thames Valley, ITV Meridian South and ITV Meridian South East bulletins into a single news programme nine days ago, covering Oxfordshire, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Hampshire, Dorset, Surrey the Isle of Wight and parts of Sussex.

But broadcasters have been swamped with complaints left on an Internet blog site set up for the relaunched programme.

According to the comments, viewers have been turning off in their droves and instead looking to the BBC for their local TV news.

Last night, the number of comments left on the website had reached 380, the majority of them negative and many lamenting the loss of Wesley Smith, the face of ITV’s Oxfordshire news coverage for over 20 years.

Thames Valley Tonight anchors Mr Smith, Mary Green and Hannah Shelswell were replaced by 67-year-old Fred Dinenage and Sangeeta Bhabra, who are based in Southampton.

Mr Smith, 45, said he was deeply touched by the comments.

He added: “It’s going to take a bit of adjusting for people after all these years.

“It’s heart-warming how kind people have been — it makes you realise how valued our service was.”

A spokesman for ITV, said the viewing services department had received a ‘number of comments’ about the new show but would not say how many actual complaints had been received.

On the online blog, George Morgan commented: “The new Meridian Tonight, replacing scrapped Thames Valley Tonight, emerged as a dire and utterly depressing experience!

“Grim-faced Fred Dineage and Sangeeta Bahbra exuded their own discomfort.

“They seemed to lack the skill which has enabled Wesley, Mary, Hannah and the Thames Valley team to present even the gravest news whilst radiating the warmth we’ve come to expect from truly professional people.

“Sadly, we must look to BBC South for a solution.”

E Pascoe said: “Now that you’ve removed Wesley, Hannah and the Thames Valley team, we shall be going over to BBC South.

“There is the adage, if it ain’t broken don’t mend it.

“Bring back Wesley is the cry by many.”

Simon Walker said: “I am very sad that we in Oxfordshire have been moved in to the Meridien (sic) region after 40 years in the ATV/Central region.

“We have nothing in common with places like Southampton or Dover. I cannot believe that we would not be better served by Central Tonight.

“I can see more people turing to BBC Oxford News, which is a shame, because Central News South was such a good service.”

Claire said: “Well I have lived in Oxfordshire now 25 years and have been watching Central South since it started with Wesley and the teams he has worked with.

“I will certainly be watching the bbc now, especially after watching meridan (sic) this evening and seeing no local news to our area at all.

“What a poor decision made by itv that’s for sure.”

l An online group has been set up for people who want ITV to bring back a Thames Valley news programme.

The group, on social networking site Facebook, has attracted 1,140 members so far.

awilliams@oxfordmail.co.uk

Comments (7)

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7:48pm Tue 17 Feb 09

Zimmer says...

I think there is now a need for the BBC to look at the local situation in and around the Oxford area and redraw the boundries and give the whole of the regional news over to a Centre at Oxford - covering Swindon, High Wycombe Milton Keynes Aylsbury and Banbury. It is a nonesense to only devote 10mins Mon -Thursday and half an hour on Fridays why not make it Half an hour all week. They have the staff and two very decent front people in Geraldine and Jerome. Come on BBC fill a gap we are not interested what is going on on the south coast!
I think there is now a need for the BBC to look at the local situation in and around the Oxford area and redraw the boundries and give the whole of the regional news over to a Centre at Oxford - covering Swindon, High Wycombe Milton Keynes Aylsbury and Banbury. It is a nonesense to only devote 10mins Mon -Thursday and half an hour on Fridays why not make it Half an hour all week. They have the staff and two very decent front people in Geraldine and Jerome. Come on BBC fill a gap we are not interested what is going on on the south coast! Zimmer
  • Score: 0

7:52pm Tue 17 Feb 09

BigAlan says...

I now watch the BBC at 6pm, at least Oxford gets a mention, I am not interested in news from Portsmouth, Southampton and even today Ventnor from the Isle of Wight. Oxford is a real place, with a University and interesting people and perhaps ITV ought to remember this.
I now watch the BBC at 6pm, at least Oxford gets a mention, I am not interested in news from Portsmouth, Southampton and even today Ventnor from the Isle of Wight. Oxford is a real place, with a University and interesting people and perhaps ITV ought to remember this. BigAlan
  • Score: 0

8:28pm Tue 17 Feb 09

Private_Eye says...

The ITV show is rubbish and has very little to do with the Oxford area. ITV have expanded the area to such a large size that it is no longer local news.

I recommend that we all switch to BBC local news as it is more relevant and local
The ITV show is rubbish and has very little to do with the Oxford area. ITV have expanded the area to such a large size that it is no longer local news. I recommend that we all switch to BBC local news as it is more relevant and local Private_Eye
  • Score: 0

6:07am Wed 18 Feb 09

CURRYMAD says...

Bring back Wesley and Co. We don't want these Grim faced lot who rattle on about areas we are not interestesd in.
Sort it out ITV.
Bring back Wesley and Co. We don't want these Grim faced lot who rattle on about areas we are not interestesd in. Sort it out ITV. CURRYMAD
  • Score: 0

5:41pm Wed 18 Feb 09

stephen arnold says...

we want wesley,anna and mary back because we have had to go to the bbc to get our local news
we want wesley,anna and mary back because we have had to go to the bbc to get our local news stephen arnold
  • Score: 0

8:48pm Wed 18 Feb 09

John Graham says...

I totally agree with the comments. I have now gone over to BBC. At lease we get a mention in Oxford. What has the south coast got to do with us. Its gone down hill since they moved from Abingdon. At least Wes and Co held it together.
I totally agree with the comments. I have now gone over to BBC. At lease we get a mention in Oxford. What has the south coast got to do with us. Its gone down hill since they moved from Abingdon. At least Wes and Co held it together. John Graham
  • Score: 0

12:53am Thu 19 Feb 09

Gunslinger says...

"I am very sad that we in Oxfordshire have been moved in to the Meridien (sic) region after 40 years in the ATV/Central region.

We have nothing in common with places like Southampton or Dover. I cannot believe that we would not be better served by Central Tonight."

Even less places like Hereford and Cheltenham, which we got when we did have Central News up till a couple of years ago!

The Thames Valley coverage was about right, although it did stretch down into Hampshire a bit, presumably because of where the transmitters are located.

"I am very sad that we in Oxfordshire have been moved in to the Meridien (sic) region after 40 years in the ATV/Central region. We have nothing in common with places like Southampton or Dover. I cannot believe that we would not be better served by Central Tonight." Even less places like Hereford and Cheltenham, which we got when we did have Central News up till a couple of years ago! The Thames Valley coverage was about right, although it did stretch down into Hampshire a bit, presumably because of where the transmitters are located. Gunslinger
  • Score: 0
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