Flagging ITV is 'Back on Song', Insists Boss

04 December 2007

LONDON: Michael Grade, executive chairman of the UK's biggest commercial broadcaster ITV, remains sanguine over the company's languishing stock price, convinced that programming improvement is the key to a positive reversal in its dented fortunes.

Grade arrived at ITV from its publicly-funded rival, the BBC, just over a year ago, with a tough mission to reinvigorate the broadcaster's schedules and revive its flagging advertising revenues.

It is a mission he has embraced with gusto, while steadfastly maintaining it will take a minimum of 18 months for the lumbering giant to reverse course.

He appears unperturbed, neither by current rumblings from the City and Wall Street over the company's record share price lows nor concern about sagging revenues, citing marketers' approval of the progress he is making.

Grade comments: "Our share price has declined in line with other broadcasters ... I can't worry about the share price on a daily basis. I only worry about things I can do something about. I worry about sorting things out here, getting the programmes right.

"ITV1 [the broadcaster's flagship channel] has had a superb recovery, its best year since 2001. The commentators on [ITV] have not had the benefit of the conversations I have had with advertisers recently.

"There is tremendous goodwill from the advertisers. They are so pleased that we are back on song."

Grade also believes online ads will provide an important source of revenue, generated by the ITV.com website and the company's Friends Reunited site, bought two years ago.

Data sourced from Financial Times online; additional content by WARC staff