This week, ITV will hand over a set of proposals to the Independent
Television Commission outlining a strategy to increase the audience for
its news output.
Of particular concern to the ITC are the falling viewing figures for
ITV’s regional news bulletins. The commission’s research reveals
audiences for local news programmes in the first nine weeks in 2000 have
dropped by 16.4 per cent year on year.
Analysis of ITV’s news audiences was prompted by changes to the evening
schedule. These alterations, which included the controversial demise of
News at Ten, were permitted by the ITC and went into effect in March
A number of regional bulletins have been moved forward in the schedule
as a result of the changes. It is these programmes that have been
affected by the most dramatic fall in audience figures. North East
Tonight, for example, was previously broadcast between 6pm and 7pm but
is now scheduled in the 5.30pm to 6.30pm slot. So far, its audience has
dropped from 342,000 to 228,000 viewers. Granada Tonight, which
experienced the same schedule shift, saw viewing fall by 24.1 per cent
Those regional bulletins that have not been rescheduled are also
experiencing falling audiences but the decline is less severe.
ITV Evening News, broadcast from 6.30pm to 7pm, is now ITV’s main news
programme. However, its average audience size between April 1999 and
February 2000 was 6.1 per cent lower than the average 5.7 million
viewers attained by News At Ten across the same period last year.
Furthermore, ITV’s prime objective of attracting more viewers to its
peak-time drama and film output is not being achieved according to Barb
ratings. Year on year for February 1999 to April 2000, the weekday 8pm
to 11pm average network ratings have grown by just 0.1 per cent, from
13.3 per cent to 13.4 per cent.
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