Addressing the annual general meeting of Carlton Communications, Britain's second largest commercial television company, chairman Michael Green was in pessimistic mode.

He predicted that advertising revenues will continue their downward spiral until May when the soccer World Cup (to be held in Japan and Korea) is expected to entice advertisers back to the small screen.

But in more upbeat mood, Green basked in the recent vox populi success of Carlton’s Pop Idol while admitting that ITV’s schedules otherwise needed beefing-up. “We continue to ensure the most effective use of ITV1's £1bn annual programme spend,” he claimed. “The huge success of Pop Idol this month is proof of ITV's ability to create talked-about-television. Strengthening the overall performance of the ITV1 schedule is a key priority for this year."

Turning to the lossmaking ITV Digital, which has already drained £800 million from the coffers of Carlton and its co-investor Granada Media, Green reported it had quadrupled its audience since its November launch on BSkyB’s satellite platform. “[ITVd] is already proving more popular than E4, yet with only half the programme budget,” he claimed.

Of the collapsed covert merger negotiations with Granada [WAMN: 27-Feb-02], Carlton’s aim, said Green, was “as always, to make Carlton and ITV stronger and more competitive. We will continue to work together with our partners in ITV to deliver value to our customers and our shareholders.”

As to free-to-air digital terrestrial television: “Discussions with the BBC and other broadcasters and manufacturers … are continuing.”

Data sourced from: BrandRepublic (UK); additional content by WARC staff