ITV Gifts Investors as Ad Revenues Slide

23 June 2006

The UK's biggest commercial broadcaster, ITV, struggling with depressed advertising revenues, will return another £200 million ($366.9m; €291m) to investors in a bid to keep them onside in the face of takeover threats.

The payout, which will amount to £500m in total this year, has been announced in the face of a 4.6% fall in group advertising revenues in the first half of 2006.

The biggest loser has been the company's ITV1 channel. Other ITV businesses have made up some of the slippage, including a 42% increase in revenue at its digital channels, but these have not been enough to offset the flagship's decline.

It has been estimated that if current trends continue, ITV1 could lose £180m in ad revenue this year.

Analysts are concerned that program budgets cuts, made to help balance the books, will lead to still lower ratings and further shrinkage of ad sales.

The company has sliced £60m from children's, sports and regional programs as part of its ongoing restructuring.

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