Digital Rivals Erode ITV’s Audience Share to 52%

13 February 2003

ITV – ailing but still Britain's largest commercial network – is no longer the “licence to print money” once controversially claimed by the late Canadian TV tycoon Lord Roy Thomson of Fleet.

ITV’s joint managing director Clive Jones admitted Wednesday that the network is even less of a fortune printing press, revealing to the Westminster Media Forum that its share of the TV advertising market continues its downward slither to languish at 52% – ten percentage points down in just five years.

Jones pointed his finger at the increasing slice of the market taken by digital TV services – which since September include the BBC/ BSkyB/Crown Castle consortium’s Freeview: “The market share has slipped but that's an inevitable part of digital penetration,” he conceded.

However, Jones claimed ITV's ratings had started the year well, insisting this had helped in the January negotiation round with advertisers and agencies – although analysts at UBS Warburg suggest the New Year poker game (which accounts for some seventy per cent of ITV’s annual income) reportedly left its share of ad revenues down by two percentage points to 51.5% [WAMN: 10-Jan-03].

Jones also demanded that the government drop its requirement for public service broadcasters to be carried on BSkyB which charges up to £17m a year for the privilege. The Murdoch-controlled satellite broadcaster insists the charges are justified because of its claimed £2 billion ($3.24bn; €3.00bn) infrastructure investment.

Data sourced from: BrandRepublic (UK); additional content by WARC staff