ITV seeks judicial review of order to schedule its nightly news earlier

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The Independent Online

ITV is to seek judicial review over an order from the Independent Television Commission requiring the network to move its Nightly News bulletin to an earlier slot.

ITV is to seek judicial review over an order from the Independent Television Commission requiring the network to move its Nightly News bulletin to an earlier slot.

The dispute between ITV and the regulator has deepened since the ITC declared in April that it was unhappy with the 14 per cent drop in ITV's news audiences after News at Ten was scrapped last year.

ITV proposals to revive the news audiences by scheduling more popular programmes before the bulletins failed to satisfy the ITC, as did an offer to bring back News at Ten during the general election campaign.

Last week the ITC issued a "legally binding" direction demanding that the network reschedule the 11pm bulletin.

The ITC has never lost a judicial review, but insiders at ITV confirmed yesterday that they felt they had been given "robust" legal advice. They said the ITC's power to demand particular scheduling changes had not been tested in court.

The ITC has not publicly said what slot it would accept for ITV's nightly news bulletin, in accordance with its assertion that detailed scheduling requirements are not part of its role. ITV insiders say the ITC has suggested behind the scene that a 10.30pm slot would be acceptable, but a 10.55pm would not.

An ITC spokesman said scheduling the news at 10.30pm would "achieve a higher audience level. But we have never wanted to get into the position of actually specifying a time."

An ITV spokeswoman said: "The big picture is that ITV has moved its news programmes to introduce an evening schedule which the ITC acknowledges has brought greater range and diversity."

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