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Monday, January 25, 1999 Published at 19:18 GMT


Bond replaces bongs at ITV

Trevor McDonald will move to The ITV Evening News from 8 March

James Bond film Goldeneye will be the first film not to be cut in two by News At Ten when ITV axes its flagship news bulletin in March.

The final bongs will sound for Trevor McDonald's bulletin on Friday 5 March, and the premiere of Pierce Brosnan's spy movie is among the highlights of the commercial network's new evening schedule.

News At Ten will be replaced by two new programmes - a half-hour main bulletin called The ITV Evening News with Trevor McDonald at 1830; and a 20-minute bulletin, The ITV Nightly News with Dermot Murnaghan at around 2300.

ITV current affairs controller Steve Anderson said: "We care confident The ITV Evening News will establish itself as Britain's number one news programme.

"The ITV Nightly News will provide an important digest of the day's main news stories, more sport, and the first look at the next day's papers."

ITN name dropped from news

[ image: Pierce Brosnan: Bond premiere is a highlight of ITV's new schedule]
Pierce Brosnan: Bond premiere is a highlight of ITV's new schedule
Although the programmes will still be made by ITN, the news outfit's name has been dropped from the bulletin's titles after 44 years.

Anderson said: "With more channels than ever, it's important for ITV to reinforce its identity for a through a reliable and regular news service."

"However, the ITN brand remains important and it will be at the forefront of our news service. For example, Michael Brunson will still be known as ITN's political editor and there'll be a voiceover at the start saying the programme is from ITN."

Programme director David Liddiment said he would now be able to run feature-length dramas like Kavanagh QC, starring John Thaw, at 2100, leading into new comedy shows - such as 1970s comedy Days Like These - at 2230.

Aiming to increase ratings

[ image: Chris Tarrant: Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? a big New Year hit for ITV]
Chris Tarrant: Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? a big New Year hit for ITV
Other programmes will include new documentary series such as Family Life, Desperately Seeking Stardom and The Final Day; a new documentary strand called Real Life; and more shows following in the footsteps of Neighbours From Hell.

Trevor McDonald's as-yet-untitled new current affairs series will also run in late peaktime.

In an address to advertisers, ITV chief executive Richard Eyre said a decline in viewing had been stopped and vowed to improve on 1998's 37.9% overall share of viewing - just short of the network's 38% target.

The success of Chris Tarrant's Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? had already boosted ITV's ratings to 42.3% for the first three weeks of 1999, he added.

But he warned increased competition from digital, satellite and cable services as well as the BBC would continue to make it a tough fight for viewers.

He said: "There is a different mood about ITV now. What has been achieved in 1998 encourages me for 1999, although it will be more difficult this year than last."

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