Between 1955 and 1999, ITN was more commonly known as the general brand name of ITV's news programmes. Since 8 March 1999, ITV has used ITV News as the brand name for its news programmes, though ITN continues as the network's news provider.
ITN was founded in January 1955 by the Independent Television Authority, as part of the new British commercial television network referred to as "Independent Television" (later ITV).
It began as a consortium of the initial ITV broadcasting companies, with former Labour MP Aidan Crawley as editor-in-chief. One of those companies, the London weekday contract-holder Associated-Rediffusion offered the new company studio space in its headquarters in Aldwych, London. The first bulletin was broadcast at 10pm on 22 September 1955 on ITV's launch night. The bulletin was presented by former champion athlete Christopher Chataway. From the start, ITN broke new ground by introducing in-vision and named 'newscasters' (rather than the BBC's nameless and sound-only 'newsreaders'), and reporter packages. The unique, probing reporting style of Robin Day caused shock among politicians, finding themselves questioned continually for information – this had never been the case with the BBC. There was also some early tensions with the ITV companies. ABC Television, the ITV contractor for the north and Midlands on weekends, immediately called for shorter ITN bulletins. While the ITA ruled on a minimum of a 20-minute bulletin, disagreements with the ITV companies over ITN's budget triggered the resignation of its news editor Aidan Crawley after just one year in 1956. He was replaced by Geoffrey Cox. Throughout the early years, ITN continued to develop its service to the ITV network with an agenda to firstly, fulfil its public service broadcasting requirements and secondly satisfy the ITV companies by attracting viewers. Under this method, ITN continued to differentiate itself from the BBC by conducting probing interviews, introducing more human interest stories and bringing ordinary people on to screen by using so-called 'vox pops' (interviews, usually held in the street, with members of the general public), all of which were seen as a radical departure at the time in British broadcasting. As the ITN reporter and later ITN political editor Julian Haviland, put it: "My view was that at ITN we must be at least as responsible and accurate as the BBC, without being so damned boring". As ITV expanded, each ITV company that made up the network's federal structure had to purchase a stake in ITN and to continue to finance the company.
In 1967, ITN was given the go-ahead by the ITA to provide a full 30 minute daily news programme at 10pm on ITV. There was further tension with the ITV executives as they were sceptical of the idea that viewers would want a full 30 minutes of news every Monday to Friday and they were also losing valuable peak time slots which could be used for the sale of commercial advertising. News at Ten began broadcasting on 3 July 1967 with a newscaster team consisting of Alastair Burnet, Andrew Gardner, George Ffitch and Reginald Bosanquet. It was initially given a 13-week trial run, however, the programme proved to be extremely popular with viewers and continued for a further 32 years. News at Ten was to become one of the most prestigious news programmes of its time in British history with a reputation for high quality journalism and innovation. ITN's News at Ten also prompted the BBC to establish a fixed nightly news bulletin at 9pm. The Nine O'Clock News began broadcasting in 1970 as News at Ten's rival. ITN also established other programmes in the ITV schedule. First Report, a lunchtime bulletin began in 1972 and by 1976, News at 5.45 commenced. This was a period when ITN enjoyed its greatest plaudits, following Lord Annan's 1977 report on the future of broadcasting, which declared: "We subscribe to the generally held view that ITN has the edge over BBC news."