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It's News at 10.30 or we'll see you in court.

ITV will be forced to move the 11 O'Clock news back to 10.30pm.

TV watchdog the Independent Television Commission will demand the change in two weeks.

The move follows a dramatic collapse in ratings after News At Ten was dumped 14 months ago.

The order could lead to an extraordinary showdown with ITV chiefs, who are refusing to move the late-night bulletin.

The ITC has already taken legal advice to ensure they can drive through the decree.

Watchdog chairman Sir Robin Biggam has said privately a 10.30pm compromise is the only option.

He is backed by Culture Secretary Chris Smith who has indicated he will support the ITC to the hilt.

ITV, however, is planning to tell the ITC it will win back late-night news viewers by scheduling more big ratings winners immediately before Dermot Murnaghan's 15-minute round-up.

And they will refuse point blank to scrap the 11 O' Clock bulletin.

The ITC believes that bringing the show closer to the News at Ten slot will dramatically improve ratings, which have slumped by nearly 1.5million since the shake-up.

A senior ITC source said: "The 11pm news is just too late. People are either in bed or getting ready for bed. If ITV resist the change we will use any means necessary - including the law - to force that change."

ITV, which has raked in an extra pounds 70million in advertising revenue since axing the flagship news show, has been given until May 18 to propose a way of winning back viewers.

Last night, they were holding emergency talks at the Montreux TV Festival in Switzerland.

A bullish ITV executive said last night: "We will fight this all the way and use any legal means.

"There is no way we would voluntarily move the Nightly News to 10.30pm."
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Author:Jamieson, Alastair
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:May 5, 2000

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