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Monday, 15 October, 2001, 23:06 GMT 00:06 UK
BBC news move 'halts decline'
Peter Sissons
It has proven to be a big year for news
The BBC's decision to shift its late evening news programme to 10pm, exactly a year ago on Tuesday, has halted a long-term decline in the news audience, the corporation has said.

The move was highly controversial in October 2000 and is still not without its critics.

Greg Dyke
Dyke: Saw opportunity in ITV's move to 11pm news
On the anniversary of the shift, a spokesman for ITN, who provide news services for ITV, described the change as "a major abdication of the corporation's public service responsibilities".

But the BBC maintains that the move was right and says the shift freed up prime time slots for more popular programming.

The change was announced by Greg Dyke just seven months into his job as director general of the BBC and was seen as an aggressive, audience-poaching move by the former commercial TV boss.


The BBC says that the Ten O'Clock News has averaged an audience of 5m viewers since the move - the same as its audience for the Nine O'Clock News.

News battle timeline
Sept 1998
ITV asks to move News at Ten
Nov 1998
ITC allows move
March 1999
News at Ten axed
March 2000
Culture committee calls for return of News at Ten
July 2000
ITC threatens "legally binding" order to restore News at Ten
Aug 2000
BBC announces plan for 10pm news
Sept 2000
ITN to move news back in Jan
Sept 2000
Government asks BBC not to move news
3 October
BBC confirms move
16 October
Ten O'Clock News launches
And the BBC has argued that, as viewing at the earlier slot had been in decline, moving the news an hour later has stabilized audiences.

Since the events of 11 September, audiences for the Ten O'Clock News have been up by almost a million to just under 6m viewers.

In a statement, BBC director of news Richard Sambrook said: "These audience figures show UK viewers clearly value the comprehensive and authoritative round-up of foreign, domestic and political news the Ten O'Clock News provides."

But an ITN spokesman told BBC News Online that the move "narrows consumer choice".

The BBC's move to 10pm was the culmination of a complex series of manoeuvrings that began with ITV's decision to drop its own News at Ten slot.

The ITV network had seen a large audience drop for the news during 1998 - and felt that the scheduling inhibited it from showing films and drama during prime time slots.

The move was opposed by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport and also by the all-party Culture committee, headed by Gerald Kaufman MP.

ITV went ahead, with a replacement news programme at 11pm and a bulletin of headlines at 10pm.


A year on from the move the Independent Television Commission called for the News at Ten to be restored and eventually got its way.

Sir Trevor McDonald
Sir Trevor McDonald fronts News at Ten once more

The first head-to-head clash came on Monday, 22 January 2000.

Since then, the BBC has tried to expand the 9pm audience with drama, documentary and comedy shows.

Lorraine Heggessey, Controller of BBC One said: "The move of the news to 10pm has been good news for viewers.

She said: "It has allowed us to open up our schedule to show more quality programmes at 9pm, including new drama such as Crime Doubles and Clocking Off and strong documentaries like Blue Planet.

"Viewing figures for our coverage of current world events proves that BBC News is still first choice for viewers."

See also:

26 Sep 01 | TV and Radio
The significance of ITN's news deal
16 Oct 01 | TV and Radio
Ten O'Clock News tension
23 Jan 01 | Entertainment
First blood to ITV in news battle
09 Oct 01 | TV and Radio
Kirsty Young 'banned' from ITV
16 Oct 01 | TV and Radio
The battle for TV's news audience
15 Oct 01 | TV and Radio
ITV and BBC still battling at 10pm
26 Sep 01 | TV and Radio
ITN keeps ITV news
20 Jan 01 | Entertainment
Battle of the bulletins
21 Sep 00 | UK
ITV News At Ten returns
13 Oct 00 | UK
End of the Nine
14 Feb 01 | Entertainment
BBC wins news battle
19 Feb 01 | Entertainment
First month laurels to ITV
23 Jan 01 | Entertainment
Ten O'Clock blues?
02 Sep 98 | Entertainment
Bong! Death knell sounds for News at Ten
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