ITC demands ITV acts to stem plummeting news audiences

The Independent Television Commission (ITC) has ordered ITV to come up with proposals to arrest the sharp decline in its news audience since the scrapping of News At Ten.

ITV is accused of breaking the conditions set by the ITC when it agreed to let the channel scrap News at Ten in March last year – namely that news audiences should not decline dramatically.

The ITC’s unprecedented decision to order ITV to improve audiences follows calls by the House of Commons culture select committee for News at Ten to be reinstated.

News at Ten was replaced by a programme at 11pm and an early evening bulletin at 6.30pm.

In the year since the schedule changes, ITV’s audience for early and late news bulletins has fallen by almost 14 per cent. The audience for main regional news magazine programmes has fallen by 22 per cent.

ITC chairman Sir Robin Biggam says: “The new ITV schedule has failed to deliver.”

An ITC spokeswoman comments: “Most channels are losing news audiences at a rate of five to six per cent a year – this is a 13.9 per cent decline.”

ITV will not make a statement about its proposals until it submits them to the ITC on May 18. The broadcaster says it recognises the ITC’s concerns, but points to the regulator’s acknowledgement that the revised schedule has delivered the promised range of new material. ITV says that after the changes, its peaktime audience share grew for the first time in seven years.

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