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Monday, March 15, 1999 Published at 11:33 GMT


ITV ratings soar with new schedule

Quiz show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? is boosting the channel's ratings

The first week of ITV's new look schedule has proved a resounding success - with viewing figures up around five per cent for the commercial channel.

With news bulletins moved to 1830 and 2300 instead of 2200, the evening has been freed up for the commercial channel to schedule films and dramas.

Last week it consistently gathered about 45% of peak-time audiences.

[ image: Trevor McDonald and the all-new bulletin at 1830]
Trevor McDonald and the all-new bulletin at 1830
ITV said it was "quietly pleased" at the high audience share revealed in unofficial figures at the weekend - but warned it was expecting the figures to drop. Official figures for the week will be released on Tuesday next week.

The figures - which includes all five terrestrial stations and satellite channels - even cleared 50% on one evening.

ITV's usual peak-time audience is usually just below 40%, although it has increased marginally during 1999.

ITV spokeswoman Carol Millward said the network does not expect the same level of success in the long run.

"We had a very good week last week, but it was the launch of our new schedule.

"It was a special week for us, with lots of new programmes, and it would be unrealistic to expect this to last forever."

A BBC spokeswoman admitted ITV had performed well but said novelty value played a part. She also said that the BBC had not been completely trounced by its rival channel, citing Tuesday night when the BBC put up a very good battle.

"This has not taken us by surprise, we were not expecting anything different. We feel this is the first step in a long race."

"Last week was quite historic in TV scheduling and ITV had a long time to prepare for it.

"We will continue to do what we always do and offer a diversity of programming."

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