British television network ITV is facing its worst advertising slump in the 50 years since commercial TV was introduced, according to a study by Zenith Media.

Due for release today, the report predicts that ITV’s ad revenues will drop 8.9% this year, far worse than the 4.7% decline forecast for commercial television as a whole. The network has suffered from an adverse reaction to last year’s soaring ad rates, which saw many multinationals such as Unilever and Procter & Gamble look to other stations and different media.

Despite continuing growth in the economy, the ad industry as a whole has suffered more than expected from the US downturn, with many American-headquartered companies slashing global adspend. “Initial hopes of a recovery [in TV advertising] in the second half of the year have receded,” warned Zenith.

Increases in UK ad revenue are expected this year in other media: 0.1% in press, 7% in outdoor, 5% in radio and 4.8% in cinema. However, the weak growth in newspaper advertising and the slump in the TV sector are now expected to push total 2001 adspend down year-on-year by 0.8% – the first annual fall since the recession in the early 1990s, and well below Zenith’s prediction less than three months ago of a 3.6% increase.

News source: Financial Times