'Disastrous' 7,000 watch UTV Ireland's 5.30 news
UTV Ireland's news bulletin has suffered a turbulent time since moving to the 5.30pm slot - with only 7,000 people tuning in on Wednesday.
Figures obtained by the Herald show that since moving to an earlier schedule time from the original 6.30pm, UTV Ireland's news programme, anchored by Alison Comyn, has had an average viewership of only 17,500 a day.
Meanwhile, TV3 News: The 5.30 has had an average of 108,000 viewers every day. A spokesperson for TV3 said the station "knows what its viewers want and continues to provide a quality news service, which is why we're number 1 for News at 5.30pm".
Commenting on the poor figures, a UTV Ireland spokesperson said the News:Ireland Live programme was still in its early stages and the reaction was positive.
"It's very early days for our new 5.30pm news slot, but the feedback from our audience about the quality of the programme has been hugely positive," said the spokesperson. "Overall, our news is now reaching over 200,000 people every day. We look forward to building on this in the future."
Between January 1 and May 24, when the programme was aired in its original 6.30pm slot, the UTV show's average daily audience was 28,600.
The figures show that the News: Ireland Live programme at 5.30pm had its highest figures on June 1, with more than 38,000 viewers.
In comparison, RTE News: Six One had 468,000 viewers on the same day.
Commenting on UTV Ireland's decision to switch to a 5.30pm slot, an insider described the move as "bizarre".
"There was no way UTV Ireland were going to make a dent in TV3's news slot at 5.30. Similar to the way RTE own the 6pm, TV3 owns the 5.30 slot, so their move was seen as a highly risky one," the source said.
"Their figures have fluctuated since the move - and Wednesday night's figures were nothing short of disastrous."