LONDON: ITV, the UK's largest commercial broadcaster, has been downgraded by Moody's, the ratings agency, as a result of the ailing state of the British advertising market and the company's decision not to raise funds through a rights issue.

The UK is expected to be one of the worst hit countries in the current advertising downturn, with spending down by over 7%, and television suffering a double-digit drop off, over 2009 as a whole.

According to Moody's, by "excluding a near-term rights issue from its arsenal of potential measures to strengthen its balance sheet, the execution risk for ITV's strategic plans has increased."

As a result, the organisation's rating for the British broadcaster – estimated to have a debt pile of £760m ($1.1bn; €850m) – has fallen from Ba2 to Ba3.

ITV has also recently announced that its executive chairman, Michael Grade, is to leave the role a year earlier than originally scheduled.

Moody's suggested that the "strategic uncertainty" this would produce further justified its decision.

Among the measures ITV is taking to improve its overall financial position it to sell its social networking portal Friends Reunited, and its digital television transmission arm SDN.

Data sourced from Financial Times; additional content by WARC staff