EDITORIAL: How ITV will woo admen with News at Ten’s move

Two cheers for the Independent Television Commission in summoning up the courage to defy the politicians’ bluster and move News at Ten.

Two cheers for the Independent Television Commission in summoning

up the courage to defy the politicians’ bluster and move News at

Ten.



The programme isn’t some hallowed institution that must be permanently

preserved as its audience dwindles, endangering the financial health of

the ITV network as it does so. And it is neither just, nor fair, for MPs

to try to stop the ITV companies exercising their rights and duties as

commercial organisations to take the necessary steps to sustain and grow

their audience shares.



Sentiment should blind nobody to some harsh facts that must be

faced.



ITV audiences are growing older and more downmarket and have lost their

allure for lots of advertisers. Worse, almost three in ten ITV viewers

are switching channels or switching off as News at Ten goes on air.



So why only two cheers for what the ITC has done? Because although it

has removed some of the regulatory shackles which prevent ITV from

competing on equal terms with the BBC, whether it has delivered a

long-term solution to ITV’s problems remains to be seen.



The litmus test will be whether ITV carries out its promise to pack the

two hours from 9pm with quality programming or succumb to the lazy

solution of screening feature films. These may well deliver audiences

but not necessarily the younger and more affluent people most resistant

to promotional messages that advertisers struggle to reach.



Moving News at Ten provides ITV with a golden opportunity to deliver the

audiences with the right demographic balance that advertisers wish to

target. For years, ITV chiefs have grumbled about News at Ten straddling

their evening schedules. Now, ITV has no more excuses for failing to

give advertisers what they want.



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