Britain's Cash-Strapped ITV to Slash Staff – and Stars' Fees

14 October 2008

LONDON: "When there is a downturn of this severity, everybody has got to share the pain: the talent, the independent producers, the in-house producers."

So cautions ITV's executive chairman Michael Grade – although it's not known if his own circa £2 million ($3.41m; €2.53m) annual pittance is included in the general alert. 
Added Grade: "When Tesco goes through a consumer downturn, it goes to its suppliers and says you have got to help us - everybody works together to get through it."

The inflated fees paid to presenters and actors is one of ITV's prime costs, although  many performers are contracted to independent producers who sell-on the shows to ITV.

In effect, Grade is serving notice on publicly-owned rival, the BBC, that he will not continue trying to match the latter's  profligacy with licence fee-payers' money – extravagance that recently led to a particular late night talkshow host receiving a three-year £18 million deal.

In a warning to such overpaid showbiz executants Grade notes: "Undoubtedly, the natural trend of the talent market is downwards because the BBC is not that flush with money and Channel 4 is hurting. Who else is in the bidding for the big talent?" 

There will be real pain among ITV's one thousand expected firings – including 430 from its regional newsrooms – triggered by declining ad revenues and the collapsing global financial system.

Data sourced from The Times (UK); additional content by WARC staff