ITV news presenter Mark Austin has announced he is quitting at the end of this year.
He broke the news to shocked colleagues during this afternoon’s pre-bulletin editorial conference.
“He just asked everyone to gather around and told us that he would be leaving,” said a journalist who was present. “There were quite a lot of tears. Mark is such an incredibly popular member of the team.”
Austin joined ITN 30 years ago from the BBC and since then has reported from troublespots around the world. Before becoming a presenter, first on News at Ten and more recently on the early evening bulletin, he was senior foreign correspondent based in both Asia and Africa.
“I’ve enjoyed some of the best jobs in television news, travelling the world, reporting and anchoring on the biggest stories and working with some of the most talented people in the business,” he said after announcing his departure. “I’m proud of what we achieved.”
Geoff Hill, editor of ITV News, said: “Mark is one of the finest foreign correspondents and presenters ever to have worked in this business. He is a gifted journalist and storyteller and a natural in the field.”
Though he’s quitting newsreading duties, it’s thought likely Austin will continue on other TV documentary projects.
His departure is another blow to ITV News following on from the uncertainty created by plans to launch a daily news entertainment show in the 10pm slot in the Spring.
Provisionally called The Nightly Show, the format is likely to be similar to that of the James Corden Late Late Show in America, featuring “comedians, celebrity guests and studio games”.
The idea will be trialled next month in a series of non-broadcast pilots. If they work, it’s thought 40 episodes will be commissioned for broadcast possibly as early as February. ITV director of television Kevin Lygo has admitted to being “unashamed” about moving the 10pm news to accommodate the new show. “I’m not going to move the news for ever, and even if it moves, it will stay within the zone. You have got to try these things and I’m unashamed about that.”