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Monday, March 8, 1999 Published at 12:05 GMT


ITV launches news at six-thirty

News at Ten is no more - Trevor McDonald will present the news at 1830

A new era dawns at ITV this week as the UK television network faces the future without News at Ten.

The flagship news programme has been replaced by a 1830 bulletin retaining presenter Trevor McDonald, the trademark "bongs" and the "And Finally" slot, at the end.

There will also be a 20-minute late night bulletin presented by Dermot Murnaghan.

The changes free up four hours of prime time TV - two of them after the 2100 watershed. Viewers can now look forward to films and dramas interrupted only by ad breaks and not by 40 minutes of news.

The changes were made primarily to boost viewing figures and advertising revenue for the commercial network. ITV chiefs felt that News at Ten made people switch over or switch off.

To try and ensure viewing figures are high in the first week ITV have scheduled a mixture of top films, comedy and the money-mad quiz show Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?, which pulled in up to 17m viewers on its last run in January.

Battle for the news

To plug the gap left by News at Ten Sky News and the BBC's 24-hour cable and digital channel, News 24, are both launching their own news programmes.

But the schedule changes have sparked a ratings battle not only for the 10 o'clock audience, but for the viewers of early evening news as well.

The BBC's Six O'Clock News, which is revamping its image in the spring, faces tough competition from the new 1830 ITN bulletin. The BBC programme will also be competing with regional ITV bulletins and Channel 5 News, which is moving to 1800.

The schedule shake-up has prompted revamps for other programmes too - including Channel 4 News and Newsnight.

BBC News Online will be streaming News 24's news programme at 2200 on Monday 8 March.

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