5 News will let viewers message its presenters live on-air via Whatsapp as it hopes to build a “stronger link” with the audience in its upcoming extended format.
The programme, which like ITV News and Channel 4 News is produced by ITN, has also promised to air more stories from around the UK and regularly highlight issues around mental health and well-being.
Channel 5 is replacing its two 30-minute news bulletins at 5pm and 6.30pm with one hour-long programme starting at 5pm after Ofcom gave permission for changes to its licence last month. The changes will begin on Monday 8 November.
It will have more investment from Channel 5 with recruitment ongoing for new roles across the whole team, although numbers have not yet been confirmed.
The new programme promises to do more analysis of issues that affect viewers’ lives the most, including deploying a live team across the UK to go out onto the streets and make sure under-represented voices and ideas are included.
5 News editor Cait FitzSimons said: “5 News tells the stories that matter most to Britain. Our new look show is dedicated to increasing our stories from around the UK. It’s a commitment to hearing how the decisions taken in Westminster filter down to towns and cities – and a chance for us to find the stories that aren’t being covered by other news programmes.”
5 News will be presented by Sian Williams and Claudia-Liza Vanderpuije, pictured, who currently anchor the 5pm and 6.30pm bulletins respectively.
5 News said viewers will be able to contact Williams and Vanderpuije directly via Whatsapp on 07555 500 501 while they are on-air, in what it said was a first for a UK daily news programme.
This means, for example, members of the public will be able to pass on their questions to politicians being interviewed on the show.
A statement said this “will give the programme a stronger link with the audience and inform the stories it covers”.
“At a time when trust in news is dropping, it’s a commitment to listen to the viewers and take their ideas seriously,” it added.
The programme also said this would provide a link to the type of stories and issues being debated on Jeremy Vine’s morning magazine show.
Daniel Pearl, Channel 5’s commissioning editor for unscripted, said: “Everything about 5 News is getting bigger – more investment, more space and more time is being given to the stories that matter and, crucially, our audience. The extended format is packed full of elements designed to engage and inform our viewers.
“Importantly, we will have a connective thread between Channel 5’s main news and current affairs programmes, with 5 News reflecting the pace and energy of Jeremy Vine each weekday.”
Williams, who joined 5 News at the start of 2016, has recently passed a Doctorate in Counselling Psychology and has spent three years delivering psychological therapy for the NHS alongside her newsreading duties. She will lead a regular segment on mental health and well-being, telling positive stories with relatable experiences from across the country.
Williams said: “I’m passionate about good mental health and I’m really looking forward to exploring how what goes on in the world, impacts our viewers’ lives. They have trust and confidence in us to tell their stories and I hope they will embrace and maybe have some fun with us too, as we begin the next generation of 5 News.”
ITN shared viewing figures showing that 5 News was watched by more than 44% of the UK’s TV viewing population between January and September.
It said audiences skew younger than the BBC and ITV’s early evening news programmes and that its current 5pm bulletin attracts more women (60%) and viewers from the lowest socioeconomic group (39%) than all its early evening rivals.
Channel 5’s licence changes mean it will still air 280 hours of news per year but it will now only have to air 20 hours per year of news, down from 120 hours, in the peak hours between 6pm and 10.30pm.
Picture: Peter Searle/ITN