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Thursday, 25 January, 2001, 16:55 GMT
Late News at Ten drops viewers
ITV's News at Ten
ITV's bulletin only has to go out at 10pm on three weekday nights
ITV's News At Ten has lost out to the BBC's Ten O'Clock News for the first time since its relaunch.

The bulletin was broadcast more than half an hour later than usual on a big news day.

ITV's bulletin has scored two successive ratings wins against the BBC's Ten O'Clock News since the two first went head-to-head on Monday.

However, on Wednesday - the day of the dramatic resignation of Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Mandelson - ITV's bulletin went out at 10.34pm and saw its ratings drop from 5.9 million to 4.5 million.

Peter Mandelson
Mr Mandelson's resignation was one of the biggest stories so far this year

The BBC's Ten O'Clock News went out at the normal time and saw its viewing figures rise from 4.4 million to 5.6 million.

Overall, ratings for the BBC's bulletin, fronted by Peter Sissons, have remained stable at 4.4 million on both Monday and Tuesday.

ITV's bulletin, fronted by Sir Trevor McDonald, has seen its figures drop from the first night high of 8.1 million on Monday.

That day, it was broadcast after hit quiz Who Wants to be a Millionaire? - which drew more than 11 million - without an ad break between the two.

A spokesman for BBC News said Wednesday night's increase in viewers for the corporation proved that viewers were turning to the BBC for both consistency and quality.

"The BBC's Ten O'Clock News went out bang on 10pm and the public want to be able to rely on finding the news when they expect it," he said.

"But the rise in figures also shows that when there is a really big story, the public come to the BBC for quality of journalism and analysis."

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The ITV's News at Ten went out later on Wednesday because of a 90-minute edition of the drama The Vice, which drew 7.2 million viewers.

ITV's 10pm bulletin only has to be broadcast at that time on three weekday nights between Monday and Thursday, in a deal agreed with the Independent Television Commission.

The BBC's Ten O'Clock was preceded by Crimewatch UK, which drew viewing figures of 6.5 million.

Crimewatch UK drew a larger audience than the BBC programmes shown on the two previous nights and was followed by two trailers.

An ITV spokesman conceded that the BBC would have drawn a large audience wanting to find out about Mr Mandelson's resignation.

However, ITV has also consistently stated this week that it expects its viewing figures to vary and only long-term results will show which bulletin the public supports.

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See also:

23 Jan 01 | Entertainment
First blood to ITV in news battle
23 Jan 01 | Entertainment
Sky battles ITN for news contract
23 Jan 01 | Entertainment
Duel at Ten for news bulletins
10 Jan 01 | Entertainment
News At Ten returns to ITV
18 Jan 01 | Entertainment
BBC wants 'broader' news
20 Jan 01 | Entertainment
Battle of the bulletins
19 Nov 00 | UK Politics
BBC warned over 10pm news slot
03 Oct 00 | UK
BBC news move 'senseless'
24 Jan 01 | Entertainment
Ratings dip for News At Ten
14 Nov 00 | UK
News At Ten rethink urged
24 Jan 01 | UK Politics
Mandelson resigns
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