Media Lifeline: News at Ten

ITV is once again planning to revive its flagship news bulletin, along with Trevor McDonald.

1999: Following years of debate and political squabbling (politicians, in particular, valued its relatively uncritical approach), ITV gets regulatory permission to ditch News at Ten - the network's flagship news bulletin since its launch in 1967. The thinking is that ITV, under pressure to deliver ratings, can now run blockbuster feature films, uninterrupted, from 9pm. The new late-evening news bulletin, ITV Nightly News, is scheduled in at 11pm.

2001: With news audiences down, ITV does a U-turn and News at Ten returns, fronted almost exclusively by Trevor McDonald. The Independent Television Commission allows ITV and other terrestrial channels an extra half-minute of peak time advertising per hour.

2003: It fails to regain its former status, however - for a start, the BBC has now moved its main evening news to the 10pm slot. ITV now flirts with outflanking the BBC by shifting to 9pm - the pretext being the increased importance of news during the Gulf War. But even in its classic 10pm slot, ratings are disappointing.

2004: So News at Ten is unceremoniously ditched once more, and ITV now plumps for a 10.30pm slot. News at 10.30 is fronted mainly by McDonald, but when he becomes disillusioned and leaves to present his own current affairs show in 2005, the bulletin, now presented by Mark Austin, is revamped.

2007: Michael Grade, who has always argued that playing fast and loose with the News at Ten franchise had been a "shocking mistake", announces that a reinvention of the show, again fronted by McDonald, will form the centrepiece of an ITV revamp in 2008.

Fast forward ...

2010: After months of intense lobbying, Ofcom finally gives in and allows ITV to dispense with its remaining public service obligations - including news. But in an inspired piece of post-modern scheduling, the network retains News at Ten - but now it is to be a celebrity and gossip show, including catch-up summaries of all the major soap operas.