Channel 1's nightly news program "Mabat" is moving to an earlier time slot, starting this evening, in a bid to compete with rival channels.

The channel's flagship news program will be broadcast at 7:52 P.M., switching from the previous 9 P.M. slot. Channel 1's news will now be seen at a comparable time to those of Channel 2 and Channel 10, which air at 8 P.M.

Contrary to earlier reports, Yinon Magal and Merav Miller will continue to anchor "Mabat" for the time being.

The move is part of widespread changes in the public TV station's broadcast schedule, which includes the relaunch today of Channel 33 - previously devoted mainly to Arabic programming - as a Channel 1-supported news channel.

Channel 1's journalists are expected to oppose the change because it was made without consulting them. Their workers' committee said they had expressed their anger at the transformation of Channel 33 to a news channel when the idea was first presented about a year ago. Last week, in a letter to the Israel Broadcasting Authority, the workers' committee warned that it would disrupt Channel 33's activities.

Negotiations have been underway in recent weeks. The workers' committee claims that the changes, including some in human resources, were made without any consultation. The broadcasting authority, however, says the committee is making demands unconnected to the channel changes - salary levels, for example. Sources on the workers' committee said it would be seeking an injunction against Channel 33's relaunch.

Channel 33 is to begin its new broadcasts today with a news report every hour, from 8 A.M. to 4 P.M..

Zelig Rabinovich, who is a senior adviser to the Israel Broadcasting Authority's CEO and has recently been appointed to oversee implementation of reforms there, said: "During negotiations between the journalists' association, the workers' committee and the IBA, demands have been raised that have nothing to do with [Channel 33's] news broadcasts. These are demands that are not in the authority's purview, but rather that of the Finance Ministry's supervisor of wages."

Rabinovich added that some members of the workers' committee were "leading the employees of Channel 1 to perdition."

Before the 7:52 P.M. main news program, Channel 1 will air a current affairs and culture program from 5:30 P.M. to 7 P.M., followed by the reality chef competition show "Come Dine with Me."