“The ITV fightback is well underway,” Charles Allen – chairman of the UK television network’s largest shareholder Granada – declared earlier this week [WAMN: 21-May-03].

Not so, retorted BARB (Broadcasters Audience Research Board) just 24 hours later, as the network’s flagship channel ITV1 saw its ratings slide again.

In the twenty weeks to May 20 (the year to date), BARB found that ITV1 registered 24.2% audience share, down from 24.8% a year earlier. The fall comes in spite of ratings winners such as Living with Michael Jackson, reality show I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here and the Who Wants to be a Millionaire fraud documentary.

This compares with the 26.1% share of publicly funded channel BBC1, which rose from 25.3% last year.

However, the figures are at odds with recent ratings from the Independent Television Commission, which found that in the twelve months to March ITV1 rose 1.6 points to a 25.9% share, closing the gap on BBC1’s 26.7% [WAMN: 19-May-03].

• Whatever the ratings, the dominant ITV duo are recovering in fiscal terms. One day after Granada posted a 35% rise in profits, partner Carlton Communications followed suit.

For the six months to March 31, Carlton reported a rise in pre-tax profits to £26 million ($43m; €36.5m), up from £3m the year before. The boost to its bottom line reflects a major cost-cutting operation, and comes in spite of a fall in turnover from £524.8m to £508.5m.

Data sourced from: Multiple sources; additional content by WARC staff