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Last Updated: Monday, 2 February, 2004, 12:49 GMT
From News at When? to certainty
Sir Trevor McDonald presents News at Ten
Sir Trevor McDonald will present the new bulletin
From Monday ITV1's often-uncertain nightly news bulletin is fixed in stone - at 10.30pm. BBC News Online looks at the reasons for the change.

In ITV1's battle for the evening ratings, its evening news bulletin has sometimes emerged as an accidental victim.

The bulletin was moved around the schedules so much - often to make room for movies - that critics had begun to dub it News at When? instead of News at Ten.

They said it was unsettling for viewers - and importantly, advertisers - because it was not on at a fixed time.

And, from October 2000, it found itself in direct competition with the BBC's evening broadcast moving from 9pm to 10pm.

'Upmarket' attempt

David Mannion, the new editor-in-chief of ITV News, said in October: "The new schedule presents an exciting opportunity to produce a new and reinvigorated programme.

"We firmly believe that a fixed time slot five days a week will make the programme more competitive and more attractive to viewers."

Mr Mannion has said he wants to attract more a more "upmarket" audience, and more male viewers to the bulletin.

"Slightly upmarket, older, we're adding sport every night, making it a slightly more upscale product, a bit more foreign news, business news, a touch on the tiller," Mr Mannion told The Guardian last month.

ITV has already unveiled the new set for the news service, which includes a curved wall of four screens and a silver, oval desk. Presenters will be able to show a story using the four screens. The refit has cost more than 1m.

But the far-reaching changes will not, as of yet, replace one of the most important aspects of the bulletin, its presenter Sir Trevor McDonald.

Greg Dyke
Greg Dyke proposed the change of time in the early 1990s

Sir Trevor, 64, has confirmed he will front the new broadcast. The presenter, who was knighted in 1999, is one of the UK's most respected news broadcasters.

The more "upmarket" bulletin will be going head to head against BBC Two's more in-depth current affairs show Newsnight.

And at other times of the week the new-look news will go up against popular dramas such as ER on Channel 4 and a host of films - which this week include Full Metal Jacket (Five, on Friday), and Bill Murray's comedy Groundhog Day (Five, on Monday).

This more male-oriented news broadcast will also be pitched against BBC One's Match of the Day football coverage on a Wednesday.

Moving the bulletin has not been a sudden move. The outgoing director-general of the BBC, Greg Dyke, mooted it when he was chief executive of LWT in the early 1990s.

Paul Revoir, the ITV reporter at media magazine Broadcast, said he believed the changes could help ITV.

BBC Two clash

"The main thing is that the news has been through a period if being moved around the schedules. That has caused a sense that ITV doesn't care about the news.

"With the ITV merger and a new editor-in-chief it seems to have given them a new sense of confidence," he said.

"The regulators had been disappointed with the fact the bulletin had been moved round the schedules, that it wasn't at the same time every night of the week.

"It will be interesting to see this new commitment to news," Mr Revoir added. He did, however, sound a note of caution about going head-to-head with the in-depth style of Newsnight.

"I know they want to make it more about live interviews, with a bit more sport and business and world affairs. But it is taking it into the territory that Newsnight does."

ITV gets news move go-ahead
02 Oct 03  |  Entertainment
News at When saga ends
02 Oct 03  |  Entertainment
ITV may switch news to 9pm
27 Feb 03  |  Entertainment

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