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Wednesday, 10 January, 2001, 17:28 GMT
News At Ten returns to ITV
Sir Trevor McDonald
News At Ten returns on ITV on 22 January
News At Ten will return to ITV on 22 January, almost two years after the programme was axed to make way for a later bulletin.

The decision will mean BBC One and ITV will go head-to-head with their late evening news programmes.

Sir Trevor McDonald will front the re-launched programme, to be called the ITV News At Ten, which will be broadcast in its new slot on Mondays to Thursdays, lasting 20 minutes.

BBC News
The BBC launched its 10 o'clock news in October
Culture Secretary Chris Smith told BBC News Online that he had "personal misgivings" about the head-to-head clash.

He said: "My principal concern is that the overall audience for TV news - and the quality of the TV service - must not be damaged by scheduling changes."

Mr Smith pledged to keep a careful watch on the BBC and ITV service.

The BBC pushed back its news bulletin an hour to 10pm in October last year, filling the slot vacated by the ITV bulletin in March 1999.

Last year ITV came under enormous pressure from the Independent Television Commission (ITC) to restore News At Ten.

The network had been criticised for losing 1.3m viewers when it moved to the later slot.

'Flexible format'

David Liddiment, ITV director of programmes, said: "We're reuniting the famous News at Ten name with Britain's most popular newscaster, Trevor McDonald.

"With the news back at 10 and the flexibility to show live sport, drama and feature films uninterrupted, we believe this is a strong proposition for our viewers."

Tony Hall, BBC director of news, said the BBC remained committed to a news programme six nights a week at 10pm.

He said: "The BBC 10 o'clock news is about quality; the range, depth and breadth of our stories from around Britain and the world from the most experienced and trusted team of presenters and correspondents."


Ten o'clock is our time. We look forward to reclaiming it

Sir Trevor McDonald
Labour MP Gerald Kaufman, chairman of the Commons Culture Committee, criticised both broadcasters.

He told BBC News Online: "It is ridiculous to have news at the same time on the two main news channels.

"ITV were seriously wrong to abolish News At Ten in the first place. And the BBC was guilty of being opportunistic, moving its news bulletin witout particularly good reasons except to clear shedules earlier in the evening."

The Shadow Culture Secretary Peter Ainsworth MP welcomed the return of News at Ten but criticised the BBC for reducing the "choice available to the viewer".

He said the BBC knew a clash was inevitable when it decided to shift its late evening news programme back an hour.

"The case of the 10pm news clash reinforces the need for independent regulation of the BBC," he said.

Pressure

Last September ITV bowed to pressure from the ITC and reached an agreement with the watchdog to restore News at Ten, but with a flexible format, allowing the channel to show the bulletin late one night a week.

Sir Trevor said: "I am delighted to be back with the news in the 10 o'clock slot.

"I am looking forward to the new programme immensely and to the challenge of taking ITV News head to head with the BBC for the first time."

He said of the 10pm slot: "It is our time. We look forward to reclaiming it."

Sir Trevor will go head to head with Peter Sissons and Michael Buerk who share presenting duties on the BBC's bulletin.

On Fridays the ITV bulletin will continue to be broadcast in the later slot of after 11pm.

ITV has also secured an agreement with the ITC for flexibility on Wednesday evenings in the winter and spring to enable the channel to show uninterrupted coverage of Champions League football.

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See also:

19 Nov 00 | UK Politics
BBC warned over 10pm news slot
14 Nov 00 | UK
News At Ten rethink urged
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