Success of BBC news at ten is bad news for ITV

BBC bosses congratulated themselves yesterday after initial figures showed that moving its main evening news to 10pm had attracted more than half a million extra viewers.

BBC bosses congratulated themselves yesterday after initial figures showed that moving its main evening news to 10pm had attracted more than half a million extra viewers.

But ITV claimed victory in the overall ratings battle. Some 5.9 million people watched the BBC's first 10 o'clock news, broadcast on Monday, compared with the 5.2 million average when it was shown at 9pm.

A spokesman said the overall number of viewers who had watched either of the main evening bulletins on BBC1 was 12.4 million, 3 million more than watched ITV news.

"What's encouraging is that it's the first night of a new schedule when traditionally people struggle a bit to find out what's on," he said. The BBC's main evening bulletin was moved after 30 years in its former slot, a decision made by the BBC director general, Greg Dyke, to capitalise on ITV's discomfort over its own News At Ten.

The battle for ratings on the first night of the new schedule had been fierce, with the BBC boosting its new bulletin's chances by placing an hour of ratings-winning comedy before the broadcast, but both sides were buoyant yesterday, with ITV claiming the biggest overall share of viewers.

One Foot In The Grave managed to beat ITV's Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? But ITV finished ahead with the highest peak-time share of viewers thanks to Coronation Street with 15.1 million viewers.

Overall the BBC saw its average peak-time share at 32.8 per cent of the available audience - 3.4 points ahead of its average share so far this year. ITV had the bigger peak-time share of the audience, which amounted to 36.3 per cent.

A spokesman for ITV said: "Despite BBC1 bringing out its biggest guns for the biggest night in 30 years, ITV was still ahead. We're pleased that even on a night like last night, ITV remains Britain's favourite channel."

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