LONDON: Television advertising revenues in the UK are forecast to fall by 17% in the first quarter of 2009, with March seeing a slump of more than 20%, according to figures collated from media agency sources by national newspaper the Guardian.

In previous media recessions, TV adspend has proved reasonably resilient, but recent forecasts are less optimistic, both for the medium and for UK adspend as a whole.

As such, the Guardian reports that TV adspend is also expected to decline by between 15% and 20% in April, but some media buyers are said to be optimistic that the deflation of TV ad rates may encourage advertisers back to the medium.

However, other sources suggest ITV, the UK's largest commercial broadcaster, may be forced to cut its programme budgets and staffing levels as the advertising downturn continues.

Among other initiatives such as freezing executive salaries, the company is hoping the UK government will approve the introduction of product placement.

Rupert Howell, ITV's brand and commercial managing director, said last week: "We are scrapping for our lives at the moment.

"We need every source of revenue possible – I don't care how small it is, we need it. We are counting the pennies, not just pounds. Every little helps."

Data sourced from Media Guardian; additional content by WARC staff