ITV to battle over news

U.K. TV Commission orders net to move b'cast up as part a public service

LONDON — The ITV network has been ordered to move its nightly news broadcast to an earlier start time — a decision the web is likely to contest in court.

The Independent Television Commission, the U.K.’s commercial TV watchdog, is backtracking after having allowed ITV to drop “News at Ten” last year and replace it with an 11 p.m. newscast.

Opening up primetime helped turn around ITV’s fortunes after a period of declining ratings, and it is loath to give that up. The expected legal battle could redefine the power structure between the regulator and commercial British television.

But with ITV’s latenight newscast down 14% in viewer share, the ITC believes the news should now air no later than 10:30.

ITV argues that ratings are not a matter for the ITC and that 24-hour news is widely available on multichannel platforms.

The ITC insists that it remains part of ITV’s public service brief to provide news to a wide audience and that 60% of Brit viewers do not have multichannel TV.

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