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Friday, November 12, 1999 Published at 05:23 GMT


Report puts ITV under news pressure

ITN's anchorman Trevor McDonald

ITV is facing new pressure over its controversial decision to scrap News at Ten after it emerged Culture Secretary Chris Smith has demanded a report on the impact of the change.

Six months after ITN's flagship was replaced by bulletins at 6.30pm and 11pm, Mr Smith has asked the Independent Television Commission - the ITV watchdog - to carry out an interim assessment of the effect of the move.

[ image: ITV's decision to move its news bulletin from its 10pm slot has been controversial.]
ITV's decision to move its news bulletin from its 10pm slot has been controversial.
Officials at the Department of Culture, Media and Sport insisted Mr Smith was not trying to interfere in the schedules by telling ITV when it should run its news bulletins.

But, at the same time, they acknowledged there was deep concern at Westminster at the decision to move the main bulletin from its 10pm late evening slot.

"There has been widespread concern, not just in political circles, about the effect of the abolition of News at Ten on the spread of information to the public generally," one senior source said.

Despite his professed desire not to get involved in scheduling matters, the intervention by Mr Smith will almost certainly be seen as putting pressure on ITV executives to rethink the timing of their main news programme.

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