On Friday 1 January 1982, LWT began extending its broadcasting hours on Friday evenings – taking over from the ITV London weekday franchise Thames Television at 5:15pm, rather than the previous start time of 7pm. The Independent Broadcasting Authority’s decision to award extended hours to LWT meant that the station became contractually responsible for providing the nightly regional news programme on Fridays.
Prior to the franchise round, the regulator had warned that the winning London contractors were expected to provide an improved regional news service for the capital throughout the week. The Authority suggested the two companies provided a jointly produced 7-day news service, but the idea was rejected by both Thames and LWT as unfeasible – the companies argued there would be little news to justify a full bulletin (as had been proven in other ITV regions).
LWT also claimed a lack of resources and cost reasons would prevent them from producing a service – despite the company employing around 90 journalists for its current affairs output, such as Weekend World and The London Programme. Up until December 1981, Thames aired a Friday edition of its nightly Thames News programme at 6pm followed by a half-hour sports magazine show, Thames Sport. LWT believed Thames’ regional output on Fridays – particularly, Thames Sport – was leaving them with a low viewing audience when it began transmissions at 7pm. According to press reports at the time, Thames staff felt LWT’s replacement for their Friday evening news would resemble more of a chat show and entertainment format, despite the company’s success in local current affairs and social action programming.