LONDON: Britain's largest commercial broadcaster ITV, long becalmed in the ratings and advertising doldrums, has finally caught a favourable trade wind as executive chairman Michael Grade (pictured) nears the end of his first year at the tiller.

Viewing figures for flagship channel ITV1 are forecast to slip by just 2% in 2007, in line with the overall TV advertising market. If achieved, this will make it the best performing free-to-air commercial TV broadcaster.

Some analysts predict the broadcaster will outperform the rest of the UK television market - although this will more likely happen because of its rivals' weaknesses than ITV's strength.

ITV's easier ride is boosted by the less-than-sparkling performances of commercial rivals Channel 4 and RTL-owned Five, with the former's audience share likely to fall by around 12% and the latter's prime channel by 10%.

In 2008, ITV1 is expected to achieve ad revenues similar to this year's estimated £1.22 billion ($2.42bn; €1.67bn) - assuming always that overall TV ad revenues hold up. By no means a certainty in the current economic chill.

Grade, acknowledged by his peers as a master-programmer, will launch ITV1's new schedules in January, although it remains to be seen if he has retained his sure touch.

Data sourced from The Times (UK); additional content by WARC staff