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A little less reality TV and a bit more investigative journalism

Thirteen years after axing its award-winning series World in Action, ITV is to return to investigative journalism with new documentaries to challenge Panorama on the BBC.

Exposure will be a series of hour-long films on Sunday evenings, which will include undercover and overseas reporting. Peter Fincham said: "It will be investigative current affairs of a sort that has been an ITV tradition."

ITV will continue to broadcast its Thursday-night current affairs strand Tonight, but Fincham described Exposure "as something else – more specifically investigations". ITV says the subjects of the programmes are highly sensitive. "It's about drawing light on to subjects that have not been explored," said an ITV source. "It's a different beat from Tonight, which is a week-in, week-out news-reactive programme."

Since the dropping of World in Action, ITV has faced criticism for abandoning its tradition of investigative journalism in favour of spending money on big reality productions and presenters' salaries.

Fincham is anxious to broaden the channel's schedule. "One thing you learn is if you want to get to a big, broad audience, you need to open your doors to everybody." He sees Exposure as part of the same scheduling strategy as Perspectives, another Sunday night series, which marked ITV's return to serious arts programming after the demise of The South Bank Show in December 2009. The series is being recommissioned.