Nine O'Clock watershed for BBC and newsreader

MARTYN LEWIS, the newsreader who angered BBC management with his demands for more good news on television, will leave the corporation if he is dropped from the Nine O'Clock News slot, close colleagues said yesterday, writes Steve Boggan.

The BBC issued a strenuous denial last night that Mr Lewis had already been axed in a shuffle of presenters but it confirmed that talks were under way over his future as part of annual negotiations with all freelance presenters.

The London Evening Standard said Mr Lewis had been dropped in favour of Peter Sissons and was likely to be moved to breakfast television or the Six o'Clock news slot. The BBC said: 'We have made no announcement about changes in television news and we anticipate no changes in presenters.'

Mr Lewis said he was engaged in 'incredibly friendly' negotiations with management but declined to comment further.