04 October 2000

The plan to move the BBC’s main evening news from its longstanding 9pm slot to 10 o'clock will remain unchanged, the public corporation insisted yesterday.

The decision follows that of the ITV network to resuscitate its former News at Ten nightly bulletin (which it shifted to 11pm earlier this year) after an avalanche of public criticism at the move and sagging ratings. The ITV bulletin will shortly return to its former slot for at least three nights a week.

Despite exhortations from politicians and others that its is not the role of a public broadcaster to compete for ratings via a direct news clash with its commercial rival, the BBC remains obdurate. Its board of governors approved the latest schedule on Monday and the changed timing will take effect from October 16.

Said BBC chair Sir Christopher Bland: “The governors believe that 10pm is a better slot editorially. It allows the BBC to provide better coverage of Parliamentary votes and the business markets, breaking stories in America which, with a US Election coming, will be vital to our international coverage.”

Bland’s colleague, director general Greg Dyke, was more combative: “The recent ITC and ITV compromise of a news at 10pm, three or so nights a week, is confusing for viewers. All the evidence shows that viewers want to know when news is being played. They welcome certainty and the BBC is offering them a main evening news proposition that is coherent and clear.”

News Source: CampaignLive (UK)