It'll be News. It'll be at Ten. But it won't be News at Ten

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The Independent Online

ITV is to bring back the news at 10pm complete with bongs and possibly anchored by Sir Trevor McDonald. But the new bulletin will be just 20 minutes long and seen on only three nights a week.

ITV is to bring back the news at 10pm complete with bongs and possibly anchored by Sir Trevor McDonald. But the new bulletin will be just 20 minutes long and seen on only three nights a week.

"We won't reintroduce the News at Ten title," David Liddiment, ITV's director of programmes, said yesterday. "And we have yet to decide who the presenter will be."

The compromise deal was hammered out after months of conflict with the Independent Television Commission - which had directed ITV to return the nightly news to an earlier time. ITV yesterday backed down from its decision to take the matter to judicial review.

Under the deal, ITV will treat Friday as a weekend day, when the news will be in a much later slot. It is obliged, from next year, to show a 10pm bulletin on three other days. The other one night a week will remain flexible.

The deal was yesterday denounced as a fudge by politicians and the BBC. The chairman of the Culture select committee, Gerald Kaufman, said: "It's just not good enough, at only 20 minutes long it is intolerable, everyone loses. ITV loses, because it has been forced to back down. The ITC loses, because it was not firm enough, and worst of all, the viewer loses."

The BBC says it sees no reason to change its plans to move its 9pm bulletin to 10pm next year. Yesterday, a spokeswoman criticised the ITV deal, saying: "There is hardly a channel in the world which doesn't have its main evening news at a fixed time five days a week.

"Under this plan ITV's commitment to news is clear - its 20-minute nightly news will be at 10pm, except on the two nights it is not. This will confuse everyone, especially the viewers."

Under the deal, the new ITV bulletin will, during the next General Election campaign, be extended to include the evening regional news. The rest of the time, regional news will continue in its current slot at 11.20pm.

An insider at ITV said the network had decided against going to court because it could not afford to lose and be forced to return to the "uncompetitive" position of running a full-length bulletin every night at 10pm.

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