ITV pins down time for nightly newscast

B'caster admits blunder moving news beyond primetime

LONDON — Commercial broadcaster ITV is to end its “News at When?” dilemma by skedding its late-evening newscast at 10.30 Monday- Friday.

Thursday’s announcement was an admission that the network blundered four years ago when it persuaded regulators to allow it to move its popular “News at Ten” to 11 to clear primetime for movies, drama and soccer.

The BBC shifted its 9 p.m. newscast into the 10 o’clock slot in October 2000 and scored a ratings success. This was heightened when ITV programming would push back the start of the 11 newscast, and confused viewers dubbed it “News at When?”

Forced rescheduling

After a major ratings slide and concern that regional news was being relegated to a scheduling graveyard, the regulator forced ITV to restore the 32-year-old bulletin to 10 p.m. three nights a week. But it couldn’t compete with the BBC newscast.

“This decision is absolutely in the public interest,” said Nigel Pickard, ITV’s director of programs. “Head-to-head news on the two main channels has not served viewers well.”

The 10.30 p.m. bulletin, produced for ITV by ITN, will be a half-hour program combining national, international and regional news.

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