Channel 5 is hoping to boost its peaktime audiences and strengthen
its early evening competition against Channel 4 by shifting its nightly
news slot to the earlier time of 7pm from the new year.
The Channel 5 news at present occupies the 8.30pm slot and attracts an
average of 500,000 viewers. From 5 January it will be rescheduled
head-to-head with Channel 4’s nightly news bulletin.
This will free Channel 5’s 8.30pm slot for entertainment programming,
which is likely to draw in larger audiences.
Channel 5 is understood to have originally proposed a 7pm news slot in
its licence application, only to be told that this would not be allowed
unless its news coverage was substantially different from that on offer
from Channel 4.
Seven months after the channel launched, Channel 5’s news team,
including Rob Butler, Kirsty Young and Scott Chisholm, has met with some
acclaim and the Independent Television Commission is understood to have
agreed that the format is different enough to run against Channel 4’s
Channel 5 says that, despite the success of its news, the move will
boost peaktime audiences by allowing it to schedule more competitive
general programming in the prime 8.30pm slot.
Nick Milligan, the sales director of Channel 5, said: ’We will schedule
entertainment, factual and feature shows in the 8.30pm slot. This will
maximise our audience flow right through into our 9pm films.’