ITN news to change in new year

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The Independent Online
ITV's NEWS AT TEN, whose relaunch with one presenter last month has been a critical and ratings failure, is to be changed again in the new year. The newscaster, Trevor McDonald, will stay, but Julia Somerville's thrice-weekly 'Focus on Britain' segment is likely to be dropped, writes Michael Leapman.

While not confirming details of the changes yesterday, Glyn Mathias, head of public affairs at ITN, said that some 'fine tuning' was going on as a result of the experience of the first six weeks. The results would be apparent next month, he added.

Ratings for the first month of the new News at Ten averaged about 6.3 million a night, more than half a million lower than the average for the month before and slightly below those for BBC1's Nine o'Clock News. But Mr Mathias said that although no confirmed figures were yet available they had improved because of the stronger programmes surrounding the news.

'Ratings for news programmes are very dependent on what comes before and after them,' he said. 'For two nights last week we had the news in the middle of Prime Suspect 2, and I'd expect the figures to be very high on those nights.'

The Consumers' Association recommends in a discussion paper today that the Broadcasting Standards Council and the Broadcasting Complaints Commission should be replaced by a single Broadcasting Consumers' Council, to promote the interests of viewers and listeners as well as dealing with complaints.