ITV records £2bn loss

04 March 2009

LONDON: ITV, the UK's largest commercial broadcaster, posted a loss of £2.73bn ($3.8bn; €3.1bn) last year, largely as a result of two substantial writedowns, and predicts its ad revenues will decline 17% in Q1 this year after falling 4% in 2008.

WARC predicts that the UK television advertising will decline by around 2% this year, with terrestrial channels – such as ITV's flagship ITV1 – likely to be the worst hit.

The company reported its net advertising revenues fell to £1.43bn last year, but also argued this meant it was ahead of the broader UK television market, which saw a decline in adspend of 5%.

It also predicted that total TV adspend would fall by around 20% in April, confirming earlier, and equally dire, forecasts for the medium.

Overall, ITV's stable of channels held their level of viewing and advertising share –23.2% and 43.8% respectively – and online revenues rose by 9% to £36m, with 6.5 million unique users visiting each month.

However, its total revenues fell 3% to £2.03bn, though global content sales rose by 10% to £622m, and external revenues were up 25% to £306m.

In all, the company recorded an operating profit of £211m, with pre-tax profits reaching £167m, down on £281m in 2007.

Among the cost-saving measures ITV has now announced, aiming to save £245m by 2011, are 600 job cuts and a reduction in the programming budget.

Michael Grade, the company's executive chairman, scrapped the pre-existing revenue targets, and argued the current conditions in the advertising market were "the most challenging I have experienced in over 30 years in UK broadcasting."

As previously reported, the company is to sell its social networking website Friends Reunited, and is "considering options" regarding its digital spectrum sales arm SDN.

Data sourced from ITV/Financial Times; additional content by WARC staff