MPs attack News At Ten abolition plan

MEDIA

ITV EXECUTIVES clashed with MPs yesterday over plans to abolish News At Ten.

Members of the Culture, Media and Sport select committee accused the network of putting commercial revenue ahead of the needs of viewers. During a two-hour session at the House of Commons, Gerald Kaufman, the chairman of the committee, accused ITV chief executive, Richard Eyre, of failing to back the change with any hard evidence that audiences would benefit. "In order to maximise your commercial income you are deliberately planning a fall in the number of people who watch your peak-hour bulletin, which is at present the best-watched news programme in Britain," he said.

ITV wants to replace News at Ten with a 6.30pm news programme, and a bulletin at 11pm. It needs to secure approval from the Independent Television Commission (ITC), which is consulting the public and will make a decision on 19 November.

Mr Eyre argued that the combination of the two new news programmes would produce better audiences than the current combination of a 5.40pm bulletin and News at Ten.

But Mr Kaufman said: "There is absolutely no evidence other than your hope and your hunch that if you had a 6.30 bulletin you would get any more than a quarter of the audience," he said. Mr Eyre said that the proposals would encourage more people to tune into news at 11pm, and would help ITV build the younger, more up-market news it desperately needs in order to placate advertisers. Mr Kaufman was disdainful and directed much of his criticism at Mr Eyre's claim that people might choose to watch an 11pm bulletin rather than go to bed.

The committee heard from Sir George Russell, who was chairman of the ITC when ITV tried to shift News at Ten five years ago. Sir George said he believed that the programme should still stay where it is and if ITV felt that a 6.30pm bulletin would improve its audiences, he pointed out, it could introduce one immediately without ITC approval.

ITV bosses looked dejected after they had given evidence.

Tony Blair, the Prime Minister, has said he would like to see the programme stay where it is and Chris Smith, the Secretary of State for Culture Media and Sport, has said the move might put at risk ITV's capacity to compete with the BBC.

Tory members of the committee suggested that too much political influence is being brought to bear. Mr Eyre acknowledged that the intervention of Mr Blair and Mr Smith puts the ITC in the position of seeming to "snub the Secretary of State, or be cowed by his involvement". Sir George said there was never any one-to-one political pressure put upon him, until it came to moving News at Ten, when letters were received from John Major, Baroness Thatcher and the late John Smith.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: SAGE Bookkeeper & PA to Directors

£18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity has ari...

Recruitment Genius: Online Sales and Customer Services Executive

£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An On-line Sales & Customer Ser...

Recruitment Genius: Accounts Assistant - Fixed Term Contract - 6 Months

£15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the largest hospitality companies...

Recruitment Genius: Electricians - Fixed Wire Testing

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: As a result of significant cont...

Day In a Page

Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most
Katy Perry prevented from buying California convent for $14.5m after nuns sell to local businesswoman instead

No grace of God for Katy Perry as sisters act to stop her buying convent

Archdiocese sues nuns who turned down star’s $14.5m because they don’t approve of her
Ajmer: The ancient Indian metropolis chosen to be a 'smart city' where residents would just be happy to have power and running water

Residents just want water and power in a city chosen to be a ‘smart’ metropolis

The Indian Government has launched an ambitious plan to transform 100 of its crumbling cities
Michael Fassbender in 'Macbeth': The Scottish play on film, from Welles to Cheggers

Something wicked?

Films of Macbeth don’t always end well - just ask Orson Welles... and Keith Chegwin
10 best sun creams for body

10 best sun creams for body

Make sure you’re protected from head to toe in the heatwave
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon files

Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games
Women's World Cup 2015: How England's semi-final success could do wonders for both sexes

There is more than a shiny trophy to be won by England’s World Cup women

The success of the decidedly non-famous females wearing the Three Lions could do wonders for a ‘man’s game’ riddled with cynicism and greed
How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map