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Thursday, 27 July, 2000, 15:35 GMT 16:35 UK
ITV launches court bid over news
Trevor McDonald
Viewing figures for ITV news have slumped
ITV is applying for a High Court judicial review of the Independent Television Commission's decision to order it to reschedule its nightly news.

The television regulator decided last week to issue a "legally binding" direction to ITV to force the network to bring the bulletin forward from 2300BST, if it does not return to the News at Ten.

ITV had been asked to move the slot to revive flagging viewer numbers since the axing of News at Ten more than a year ago. So far it has refused.

ITN newsreaders
ITV's main bulletin was given an earlier slot
The number of people watching ITV news has plummeted by one million, 14% of the audience, since the news programme was scrapped.

It a statement the network said: "ITV today confirmed that it is making an application for a judicial review of the Independent Television Commission's decision concerning the scheduling of the ITV Nightly News.

"Since legal proceedings are now under way, ITV will be making no further comment at this time."

The spokeswoman added that if ITV is granted a judicial review, as is anticipated, the hearing is expected to go ahead in the autumn.

The ITC said it was making no comment about the court challenge.

ITV was ordered earlier this year to come up with proposals to attract viewers back, but the ITC did not like its plans.

'Mildly pornographic'

They included giving greater emphasis to news programmes as well as a pledge to spend more money on programmes between 2100BST and 2300BST.

MPs and a number of television's most respected figures have been involved in the dispute.

In March, a Commons select committee said News at Ten should be brought back and put pressure on the commission to use its regulatory powers.

The former newsreader, Sir Alastair Burnet, and three men who ran ITN from 1956 to 1991, also wrote to the ITC.

They accused ITV of ruining the reputation of its news by replacing ITN with "weak series, entertainment trivia and mildly pornographic programmes".

ITV said it scrapped News At Ten to halt the long-term decline in its peaktime audience and increase the range and diversity of the evening schedule.

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