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|Format||Text-based information service|
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|Production company(s)||Gower Creative Communications|
|Original channel||ITV, STV, UTV,
ITV2, ITV3, ITV4
|Original run||1998 – present|
ITV Nightscreen is a scheduled programme on the United Kingdom's ITV television network, consisting of a sequence of animated pages of information about ITV's upcoming programmes, features and special events, with an easy listening music soundtrack. The programme is used to fill the station's overnight downtime, where a closedown would have once been used at the end of programmes. Previously it began after the final programme in the night and finishes at 05:30 every day, but recently ITV have started airing The Jeremy Kyle Show at 4:30 am – 5:30 am, giving Nightscreen a shorter airtime with it starting usually at around 3:15–3:45 and finishing at 4:30.
It was first broadcast in 1998, and consisted of teletext pages taken from the ITV regional teletext services, with interstitial teletext-based animations in a similar style to the former 4-Tel On View, which had also been produced by the Intelfax). Since 2003 the screens have been produced using Scala InfoChannel3. In early 2009, updated systems were installed with the latest version of Scala5, with a dual redundant system to counter any issues of service. In April 2012, the system was upgraded again to a newer version of Scala5. This, amongst other minor presentational changes, allowed compatibility of the service to be transmitted in 16:9 widescreen for the first time, as opposed to 4:3.
Nightscreen has, in the past, been criticised for highlighting programmes which had already aired, and for some careless typing and spelling errors but now regularly avoids doing this. As well as providing focus on upcoming programmes, films and TV listings, it also offers some news from the world of entertainment. In the past it also offered sports news and even on some occasions cooking tips, recipes and also fact files of characters from famous ITV shows like Emmerdale and Coronation Street.
The Scala system was provided by Beaver Group, and the programme is currently produced by Gower Creative Communications.
Teletext screens had been employed by the BBC and Channel 4 since the early 1980s to fill airtime cheaply. Although in-vision teletext was only ever occasionally used on the ITV network (including an Oracle-provided service preceding TV-am broadcasts known as Daybreak during the 1980s), certain regions, firstly Central Independent Television from April 1986 followed by Yorkshire Television from January 1987 started showing overnight teletext sequences containing details of local job vacancies under the title Jobfinder and these pages were broadcast for an hour after the end of regular programming ended. When 24-hour television began in 1988, the majority of ITV regions broadcast a "Jobfinder" programme in the hour preceding the ITN Morning News which began at 05:00.
ITV Nightscreen's origins can also be found in a programme simply titled Freescreen, which was made and screened by Meridian Broadcasting in its early years. The Meridian version mixed the teletext pages with local news stories and short videos made and sent in by viewers.
ITV Nightscreen is broadcast on ITV and UTV starting from when the last programme finishes and ending at 04:35 most weekdays and at 05:30 at weekends. ITV2 often broadcasts the filler starting at around 05:00 and ending at 06:00. Its availability on ITV3 and ITV4 is dependent on how much unused time is left, and can sometimes last for as little as five minutes on ITV3 and ITV4 (as teleshopping is shown on ITV3 and ITV4 between 03:00 and 06:00). Although not an ITV-branded channel, ITV's now-defunct Men & Motors channel would in its later years carry the filler from the close of programming until 06:00; between 06:00 and the start of programmes at 11:00, M&M would broadcast an animated caption card or teleshopping presentations.
In its early years, Nightscreen would take up most of the early morning schedule, often starting at 02:00 or 03:00 and finishing before the ITV News at 5:30.
In December 2005, three months before the now defunct ITV Play began transmitting, a quiz show entitled Quizmania began broadcasting in the early hours on ITV. Subsequent programmes that followed were The Mint, Make Your Play and Glitterball. This resulted in Nightscreen being pushed back to just a half hour service between 05:00 and 05:30.
In 2008, largely as a result of widespread scandal surrounding phone-ins, ITV Play was permanently axed, since when Nightscreen now regularly runs from around 04:00. ITV Channel Television previously ran its own version of the service entitled Channel Nightscreen consisting of local news headlines and programming information.
In April 2010, STV launched its own Scottish night-time service, The Nightshift, broadcast in the STV Central region and consisting of programming highlights, news, competitions and viewers texts & emails read out by a live out-of-vision presenter. STV North continued to broadcast ITV Nightscreen until July 2010, when The Nightshift was extended to the North region. The programme includes regional news opt-outs for the four STV sub-regions: Aberdeen & the North, Dundee & Tayside, Edinburgh & the East and Glasgow & the West. STV now broadcasts Nightscreen from Tuesday to Thursday, usually between around midnight and 6:00 am.
In mid 2010, ITV started airing The Zone for 2 hours, a gaming and shopping programme block, usually airing from 00:30 to 02:30, leaving Nightscreen often cut back to as little as an hour and sometimes removed from ITV's schedule altogether.
ITV's News at 5:30 bulletin was axed in December 2012 as part of a cost-cutting measure. From January 2013, ITV Nightscreen's hours were extended, finishing at 06:00.
Other similar services
A similar filler to ITV Nightscreen was also provided by RTÉ, who currently uses this to fill airtime cheaply on RTÉ Two. It is very similar in fashion to ITV Nightscreen as it provides rolling teletext pages while RTÉ Two is not broadcasting. It has been criticised by many FAI League of Ireland fans who have dubbed the service "Errortel" due to the constant inaccurcies, delays & incorrect information with live scoring and reporting of games.
- Pages from Ceefax: Ceefax was the BBC's teletext information service transmitted via the analogue signal, started in 1974 and continued to run until the UK analogue switch off in October 2012. In-vision Ceefax broadcasts started in 1980, initially as a daytime filler but as programme hours expanded Ceefax was shown before the start of programming. From around 2000 until October 2012 they were seen on BBC Two late at night, most commonly at the weekend but occasionally during the week. The final broadcast was in the early hours of Monday 22 October 2012, two days before Ceefax was switched off when digital switchover was completed. Broadcasts on BBC One had ceased in November 1997 when BBC News was launched as BBC One carries BBC News as an overnight filler although occasional Ceefax broadcasts were seen on BBC One Scotland.
- 4-Tel On View: Used by Channel 4 as a cheap filler for airtime. Originally broadcast on weekdays in 15-minute bursts between 13:00 and 16:15, it aired at increasingly earlier times as Channel 4 extended its broadcast hours. The first change was in October 1984 to airing between 10:00 and 13:45 and then in September 1987 to 08:00 to 09:27 (08:00 to 11:45 during school holidays). In April 1989 Channel 4 began broadcasting programming at breakfast and 4-Tel On View was reduced to a 40-minute slot between 05:20 and 06:00. It was removed from airing in January 1997 when Channel 4 began broadcasting a 24-hour television service.
- Oracle on View: Was aired in the 1980s during 4-Tel On View slots on Channel 4. The fifteen-minute bursts were originally broadcast at :30 to :45 minutes past the hour but changed to :15 to :30 minutes past in October 1984 when Channel 4 began weekday afternoon programming. Oracle On View ended in April 1989 when Channel 4 launched its breakfast programming.
- S4C Closedown Screen: Was a program which ran for 10 minutes after closedown and for 10 minutes before startup. Phased out in late-2000s.