Grade’s ITV still struggling

Phone scandal hits earnings

LONDON — ITV’s new topper Michael Grade has admitted that “a great deal more” needs to be done to turn round the ailing broadcaster.

In a trading statement issued before the company’s AGM Thursday (May 17) Grade indicated that while the U.K. ad market looks less volatile than it did a year ago the recent scandal over premium rate phone services was hitting the bottom line.

Revenue from phone line services dipped by 20% in March and April, said ITV, following public anxiety that these and other services operated by GMTV, Channel 4 and Five were ripping off viewers.

“The poor execution of these services across the sector has reduced consumer confidence and it’s having a material impact on premium rate telephone service revenue,” said ITV.

Grade added: “The board takes the PRTS issues very seriously and is committed to publishing the findings of the current independent review of PRTS in ITV programming.

“Encouragingly the airtime sales market appears less volatile than last year, and we remain firmly focused on the needs of our viewers and advertisers.

“Our goal is to create long-term value for our shareholders by exploiting our content on an expanding number of media platforms, both in the UK and internationally.”

Revenue from flagship web, ITV1, is down 9.6% over the first half of 2007, while total ad coin fell by 5.7% during the same period.

Last year ITV1’s ad revenues fell by 12.3%.

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