The fee charged to broadcasters for use of the British terrestrial TV analogue spectrum has been slashed to less than half after intensive lobbying by ITV, the nation's largest commercial TV company.

For the past several months ITV has politicked relentlessly for a substantial cut in the fee - £215 million ($390m; €323m) in 2004 - with a mix of threats, emotional appeals and histrionics, the latter of a standard that would be envied by masters of physiognomic acting such as Jim Carrey.

The broadcaster employed every argument in the book to plead its case: decreasing use of the analogue TV spectrum as ITV viewers migrate to watch its digital channels, spiced with sob stories about falling profits and its inability to pay dividends to needy shareholders.

This week ITV's efforts were rewarded by media regulator Ofcom, moved by the broadcaster's eloquence to slash the channel three licence fee for the current year by £135m.

In 2005, ITV will pay just £80m; while its smaller channel 3 co-franchisees, Scottish TV and Ulster TV, will pay just £10m between them.

ITV is not the only beneficiary of Ofcom's compassion. The Five channel will pay about £90m this year against £180m under the terms of last year's licence deal. In each case, this munificence will go straight through to the bottom line.

Data sourced from; additional content by WARC staff