Ratings `victory' for ITV News

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ITV CLAIMED a ratings victory for its first evening without News at Ten, after increasing its share of viewers by almost 25 per cent on Monday night.

Unofficial viewing figures available yesterday showed that the new ITV Evening News at 6.30pm was watched by 7.3 million people. The BBC's Six O'Clock News is usually the most-watched early evening news programme, with about 6 million viewers. On Monday its ratings increased to 6.5 million, but still did not match the new bulletin presented by Trevor McDonald.

ITV's new late-night news at 11pm also did well, attracting 3.1 million viewers. News at Ten averaged about 5.8 million viewers for most of last year.

Most importantly for ITV, its overall evening schedule put on viewers. Its uninterrupted drama, Kavanagh QC, attracted 10.3 million viewers, a 46 per cent share of all those watching television.

The good ratings for its news, dramas, and the quiz show Who Wants to be a Millionaire? - which was watched by 12 million people and even defeated EastEnders - allowed ITV to take an average 48 per cent share of viewing across the Monday evening. This compares with an average of just under 38 per cent for most of last year.

A spokeswoman for ITN, which makes ITV's news programmes, said: "We are delighted that the viewers seem to have given a vote of confidence in the new programmes. It bodes well for the future."

The only hiccup in ITV's new schedule came when a guest on Who Wants to be a Millionaire? won pounds 125,000 after giving a wrong answer halfway through his run. The show asked what was the minimum number of strokes needed to win a tennis set but did not allow for the possibility that a losing player could double fault throughout three games.