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Channel 4 news revamp

ITN's grip on Britain's commercial news broadcasts was under threat yesterday when Channel 4 started a total re-vamp of its 7pm evening news by asking independent production companies to suggest new ideas for the programme's format.

Channel 4, which has used the News at Ten producer ITN since it launched 15 years ago, says the presenter Jon Snow will stay with the show, but industry pundits were last night predicting a revolutionary new type of TV news.

Independent producers are expected to join forces to create a "stringer" network of regional journalists and news services, similar to those used by national newspapers.

Observers expect big independent producers such as Clark Television, which produces Dispatches for Channel 4, Mentorn Barraclough Carey and Broadcast Communications to chase the contract. Also likely to bid for the programme is BSkyB, which tried unsuccessfully to wrest ITV's news contract from ITN last year. Another candidate could be the international news service Reuters.

Channel 4's review of its news comes as the BBC nears the end of a six-month review of its own news programmes.

Channel 5, which has received plaudits for its innovative evening news show, announced yesterday that it is moving its news from 8.30pm to 7pm to get a bigger audience and is launching a lunchtime news programme.