UK Media Watchdog's Ire over ITV Licence Fee Leaks

01 June 2005

The UK's biggest commercial broadcaster ITV has reportedly irked media watchdog Ofcom over the licence fee it pays for use of the analogue spectrum - the amount of which is currently under review by the regulator.

According to the Financial Times, ITV has encouraged analysts' expectations of a substantial reduction in the £200 million ($356m; €290m) it currently pays. The actual amount will be announced at the end of June.

Analysts had been expecting a cut of between £80m and £100m. But following talks with Ofcom and ITV, investment bank UBS sent fund managers an email stating "... while the outcome is highly uncertain, we think there are a number of scenarios where savings are £50m to £70m better than consensus."

ITV denies giving guidance and Ofcom declines to comment.

Failure to win a significant reduction in the licence payment could affect the company's share price. Its flagship channel ITV1 suffered a 7% decline in audiences across the first four months of this year.

But chairman Sir Peter Burt was keen to talk up the success of the broadcaster's digital offerings at last week's annual meeting, saying it intends to "to exploit the opportunities that we have in the digital world" [WAMN: 30-May-05].

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