Media regulator Ofcom has given Five permission to reduce its 7pm news programme from half an hour to 15 minutes and alter its evening schedule in the runup to Sky becoming its news provider in January.
The channel will use the additional time, freed up by the shortened 7pm bulletin, to extend its arts, history, science and nature programmes to 45 minutes.
Five will now be required to transmit 7.8 hours of news per week.
Chris Shaw, Five’s senior programme controller of news and current affairs, said: “From our point of view our main news at 5.30 is very successful and since introducing it two years ago we have seen audience increases of 50 per cent.
“Unfortunately it doesn’t fulfil our licence requirements as it’s technically outside peak time so we have to run news in peak hours even though our most important news is at 5.30pm.
“We have struggled with our 7pm news and have tried different things to try and make it work but haven’t found the formula to compete with Channel 4 News.
“Now we can offer a genuine alternative to Channel 4’s programme which is 50 minutes long. We are going to offer a shorter, fast moving alternative.
“Our updates that last between one and five minutes have always been very popular. Research shows that shorter news programmes are popular with viewers – they like bite-size news.”
An Ofcom spokeswoman told Press Gazette : “The Communications Act required us to look at public service broadcasting (PSB) and we undertook a yearlong review and focused on how we could strengthen and maintain PSB with the PSB channels.
“When we looked at Five it was decided that greater flexibility was required.”
By Caitlin Pike