The annual sales haggle between Britain’s leading commercial network ITV, its major advertisers and their agencies, has run its course – and ITV is not smiling!

The New Year poker game, which accounts for some seventy per cent of the broadcaster’s income, has left its share of the available ad revenues down by two percentage points to 51.5%, according to the chiromancers at UBS Warburg.

The loss of spend/share reflects the network’s diminishing viewing figures, as well as vigorous performances from up-and-coming terrestrial rival Five and Rupert Murdoch’s satellite pay-TV platform BSkyB.

But ITV has one consolation (albeit scant) according to USB Warburg analysts. The network’s revenue shortfall could have been worse, some seers having predicted that its share would fall below the psychological pivot of 50%. Just five years ago when Five (then Channel 5) was launched, ITV’s share stood at 62%.

But however the data is viewed, ITV’s bank account will be several millions of pounds lighter in the year ahead. During which period, Five hopes to raise its 7.5% revenue share by one percentage point, while BSkyB is looking to hike its 10.2% ad share to 12%-plus.

But despite the long faces across the ad industry, Britain's TV sector as a whole is prospering. Total TV adspend grew by 3.7% in 2002 and the pundits predict it will outperform other mainstream media in 2003 with an upward surge of 4%.

Data sourced from:; additional content by WARC staff