David Robinson

Article excerpt

This is how that rarely spotted creature, the ABC1 Consumer, lives in the 21st century. She pays [pounds]2 for take-away lattes, orders her groceries from Tesco Direct so she can devote more time to the pursuit of her ABC1 salary, and checks out news headlines regularly throughout the day via the internet, TV or her WAP phone.

The lattes may be a passing trend, but hunger for news seems to be with us to stay. Those sought-after ABC1s are characterised by their need to be in touch, to take a full part in the speeded-up merry-go-round that modern life encourages. At least that's the belief that David Robinson, ITN's head of marketing, is pinning the broadcaster's latest venture on.

ITN is to launch a 24-hour news channel, available over the internet, from WAP phones, personal organisers, as well as the rather more mundane media of TV and radio. "Advertisers want to reach these people (ABC1s) and we have the perfect vehicle to attract both the right audience and the advertisers," says Robinson.

Excellent idea. News, as any journalist will tell you, is addictive. Get people interested in the fact that they can access the latest news anywhere, and via virtually any technology, and they'll probably be hooked. Get them coming back often enough and the advertisers will be flocking through the revolving doors of ITN's glassy shopping mall-style head office.

Just one little problem -- haven't the BBC and Sky already carved up the 24-hour TV news cake in the UK? Doesn't every web portal worth its salt offer a speedily-updated news service? Isn't all this a bit, well, late?

Definitely not, says Robinson, sitting on the edge of his seat to press home the point. We are up on the second floor of the impressive Norman Foster-designed ITN building on Grays Inn Road. I try to curb a compulsion to lean over the atrium and watch Channel 4 record the news.

Robinson is the 41-year-old Aussie charged with building the profile of the ITN brand as it moves into new markets. He carefully explains why there is room for ITN's own channel in the jungle of news: "BBC and Sky are principally entertainment brands. News is a cornerstone for the BBC, but this is all that ITN does. Research has shown that people find ITN authoritative and accessible. It's that accessibility, the ability to deliver news to the mass market in a way that they feel connected with it, that will mark us out."

Viewers and listeners see and hear ITN-produced news all the time but may not know it. ITN gathers and packages news for channels including ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5, as well as for radio, with LBC News Direct. Robinson's task is to bring the ITN brand out from behind the shadows, capitalising on its skill at producing news tailored for specific audiences.

Diplomacy and sensitivity is the name of the game. …