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The BBC's Greg Wood
"It's bold but is it wise"
 real 56k

Tony Hall, Chief Executive BBC News
"It's something we've been talking about for a long time"
 real 28k

Culture secretary Chris Smith
"They also need to look at quality"
 real 28k

Tuesday, 3 October, 2000, 22:01 GMT 23:01 UK
BBC news move 'senseless'
Nine O'Clock News
The move ends a 30-year tradition
Politicians from all the main parties have attacked the BBC's decision to move its flagship Nine O'Clock news bulletin to 10 o'clock.

The change will go ahead on 16 October - a year ahead of schedule - after ITV announced it was restoring News at Ten.

Culture Secretary Chris Smith said there was a danger of driving down the quality of BBC news if it went head to head with ITV.

Chris Smith
Chris Smith: "Head to head conflict doesn't make sense"
But BBC Chairman Sir Christopher Bland said the move was in the best interest of viewers.

In a statement Mr Smith said he had "considerable misgivings" about the BBC's decision.

"My concern is that the overall audience for TV news - and the quality of the service - must not be damaged by any change to scheduling," he said.

"If it becomes clear that the audience or the programme's quality has diminished, it will be incumbent upon the BBC governors - given their responsibilities under the BBC Charter - to review the situation."

Shadow culture secretary Peter Ainsworth said he regretted the decision.

"The public will have two competing news programmes at the same time on most week days and that just doesn't make sense," he said.

'Down market'

Liberal Democrat broadcasting spokesman, Norman Baker, said it was further evidence BBC One was going "down-market".

Under the plans Panorama will move from Monday nights to Sundays, and there will be a new 10 o'clock Sunday bulletin.

Director general Greg Dyke first outlined the proposals to move the Nine O'Clock News at the Edinburgh Television Festival in August.

Mr Smith had urged the BBC to rethink its decision.

But BBC governors agreed unanimously to continue with the changes.

Making the announcement, Sir Christopher said it was "in the best interests of viewers...it's a better time for news".

'Betrayal'

He continued: "It contrasts quite sharply with ITV's proposals, we offer absolute clarity in the scheduling of our news, six days a week."

He said the proposal was central to the BBC's ambition to strengthen BBC One - an objective set by the government when it agreed the new level of licence fee funding.

It would allow a more effective scheduling of drama, entertainment and factual programming in accordance with audience needs, he said.

"The broadcasting landscape changes and the BBC needs to change with it."

In a statement ITV said: "This is clearly a betrayal of BBC One's public service values.

Shadow culture secretary Peter Ainsworth
Peter Ainsworth: "Decision makes no sense"
"It cannot be in the interest of licence payers to have the two main news bulletins head to head.

"BBC One is being driven by competition with its commercial rivals rather than by its public service obligations and that is bad news for licence payers."

Panorama will follow a 15-minute bulletin on Sundays and will last for 40 minutes, giving nearly an hour of news and current affairs on BBC One.

The local news for the English regions and Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will double in length to six-and-a-half minutes.

Sir Paul Fox, former managing director of BBC television and former member of the ITN board, accused the corporation of "opportunism".

"I could understand the news being moved in a year's time or after the election to 10 o'clock. That is not a major issue," Sir Paul told BBC Radio 4's World at One.

"What is an issue at the moment is doing it in this sudden way purely to play games with ITV and that is not the way the BBC should behave with the news."

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See also:

03 Oct 00 | UK
BBC news move to go ahead
01 Aug 00 | UK
ITN joins all-news battle
20 Jul 00 | UK
ITV ordered to move news
08 Mar 99 | Entertainment
ITV launches news at six-thirty
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