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Last Updated: Friday, 21 October 2005, 17:37 GMT 18:37 UK
BBC Three drops nightly news show
Paddy O'Connell
Paddy O'Connell presents the 7 O'clock News bulletin
BBC Three has announced plans to drop its nightly half-hour news programme from December.

The 7 O'clock News show is to finish but the hourly 60 Seconds bulletin will continue to broadcast.

BBC director of television Jana Bennett said the move, which was recommended by a recent report to raise the channel's impact, was a "difficult decision".

The BBC said it would minimise compulsory redundancies among the half-hour programme's 24 staff.

The change has been approved by Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell.

'Tough decision'

It follows the publication of the Barwise Report last autumn and the BBC's own qualitative audience research, which was undertaken earlier this year.

Professor Patrick Barwise, of the London Business School, recommended that BBC Three discontinue the 7 O'clock News bulletin to increase the channel's impact and value for money.

He also noted that the news needs of the channel's target audience of 25 to 34-year-olds were met elsewhere.

Ms Bennett said: "We have taken this difficult decision because we know that the audience's news needs are being met in other ways.

"We will now work to maximise the channel's value for money for licence payers without diminishing the channel's existing public service programming obligations or distinctiveness."

Stuart Murphy
BBC Three controller Stuart Murphy is stepping down

She added that the slot would be filled with "high quality" factual programming, with money released from the change being used to raise "knowledge building programmes" from 45 to 50 hours a year.

BBC Three controller Stuart Murphy said the show had "fought its corner" against "intense competition".

"I genuinely regret that the programme's audience impact was not significant enough to justify its existence," he said.

"It is testament to the creativity of the bulletin's production team that many of the techniques it pioneered were subsequently adopted by mainstream news media."

Last year's Barwise report into the BBC's digital TV channels was commissioned by the government.

Professor Barwise said the programme "achieves nothing and attracts tiny audiences".

But it was a key pillar of the "public service" commitment sought by Ms Jowell when approving BBC Three before its launch in 2003.

An earlier application to launch the channel, which did not contain a main evening news bulletin, was rejected in 2001.

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