BBC has the viewer's affinity...but ITV has the personality

Consistency is the key to winning over viewers in the 10 o’clock news slot, according to ITN editor-in-chief David Mannion, as both ITV and the BBC claimed the initial outing of the News at Ten was a victory for news and viewers.

ITV had refused to discuss hoped-for ratings, but said it was pleased with its first night viewing figure of 4.1 million for the national news programme, or 3.8 million average across the national and regional programme. The BBC’s Ten O’Clock News, anchored by Huw Edwards, recorded a viewing figure of 4.9 million – an audience share of 23 per cent over the same period.

Mannion said the focus was not on one show, but on the long-term quality of the bulletin. ‘If we are to persuade people to watch News at Ten instead of a very credible product on the BBC, we have got to deliver what we think they want, but we have to be consistent in that delivery.

‘If we are going to persuade people to make an appointment-to-view at 10 o’clock, it is no good reheating [news]. There has got to be added value by stuff they haven’t seen before: Exclusives, original journalism, a little bit more analysis and explanation, making sense of the day.”

The revived News at Ten has been placed at the heart of ITN staff’s working day as its flagship programme. The show is being presented by Sir Trevor McDonald and Julie Etchingham, who joined from Sky News. Mark Austin will stand in as co-anchor when McDonald is off, and will also anchor on-location reports from the sites of big news events. Since News at Ten is only running Monday to Thursday, Austin will also host the Friday Late News at 11pm. He will continue to co-present the ITV Early Evening News. The new News at Ten does not include an ad break during the national news, in a bid to compete directly with the ad-free BBC.

Monday’s programme launched with an exclusive interview with Princess Diana’s former lover, Hasnat Khan. A special report on Antarctic glaciers by international editor Bill Neely is the first of a series to be complemented by behind the scenes vlogging at itv.com/news. The BBC led with an exclusive from its world affairs editor, John Simpson, right, in Zimbabwe.

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