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Tuesday, 23 January, 2001, 14:49 GMT
First blood to ITV in news battle
Sir Trevor McDonald
Sir Trevor McDonald fronted News At Ten
More than eight million people tuned into ITV's re-launched News At Ten bulletin on Monday, according to unofficial overnight figures.

ITV drew almost twice as many as viewers as those who watched the BBC's bulletin in the same slot.

We are in this for the long term

BBC spokesman

The BBC and ITV went head-to-head with their 10 o'clock news bulletins, clashing for the first time on Monday night.

News At Ten, fronted by Sir Trevor McDonald, drew 8.1 million viewers.


At the same time on BBC One, the Ten O'Clock News, with Peter Sissons, attracted 4.4 million viewers.

A BBC spokesman said: "We are in this for the long term. This is not just about ratings.

"We would ask people to judge us over the next few months and on the quality of coverage we are providing."

The two broadcasters have been criticised by politicians for the head-to-head clash.

News At Ten does not have to start on the dot

ITC spokeswoman

Culture Secretary Chris Smith has said he has "personal misgivings" about the clash and would be watching to ensure the overall audience for news on the two channels did not suffer.

But the overall news audience on Monday at 10 o'clock showed a marked rise on previous months' figures.

An ITV spokesman told BBC News Online: "We are naturally pleased that so many viewers chose ITN News At Ten.

"We are committed to News At Ten for the long term and it is clearly an attractive choice for viewers.

"It is worth noting that the BBC's figures on Monday were below those for the old Nine O'Clock News."

Millionaire boost

Viewing figures on ITV were greatly helped by Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?, which was screened immediately before the bulletin and attracted more than 11 million viewers.

  • ITV 12.3m
  • BBC 5.1m
  • 2145-2200
  • ITV 12.8m
  • BBC 5.1m
  • 2200-2215
  • ITV 8.7m
  • BBC 4.4m
  • 2215-2230
  • ITV 6.2m
  • BBC 4.3m
  • There was also no commercial break between the quiz, hosted by Chris Tarrant, and the 16-minute-long news bulletin, which started two minutes late.

    The ITV spokesman described the scheduling as normal practice and that it was "acceptable to the regulator and to the viewers alike".

    A spokeswoman for the Independent Television Commission, the body which regulates ITV, told BBC News Online: "It is standard practice and indeed it happens on the BBC.

    "It happened fairly regularly with the old News At Ten. It does not have to start on the dot."

    The BBC Ten O'Clock News lasted 33 minutes, including a regional news bulletin.

    The BBC's deputy director of news, Richard Sambrook, said: "We had twice as much news as ITV's, twice as much foreign coverage."

    ITV was ordered to return News At Ten to the schedules after its move to 11pm in 1999 had seen viewings figures fall.

    BBC director general Greg Dyke decided to move the corporation's nine o'clock news back an hour in the schedules last August.

    See also:

    10 Jan 01 | Entertainment
    News At Ten returns to ITV
    23 Jan 01 | Entertainment
    Duel at Ten for news bulletins
    18 Jan 01 | Entertainment
    BBC wants 'broader' news
    19 Nov 00 | UK Politics
    BBC warned over 10pm news slot
    20 Jan 01 | Entertainment
    Battle of the bulletins
    03 Oct 00 | UK
    BBC news move 'senseless'
    14 Nov 00 | UK
    News At Ten rethink urged
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