ITV prospects brighten

Quiz scandal bites into revenue

LONDON — Blighty’s battling terrestrial broadcaster ITV is on course for an improved performance in 2007, according to a half-yearly trading statement.

But the phone quiz scandal, described Tuesday by ITV topper Michael Grade as “a wake up call” to all U.K. broadcasters, has hit ITV hard with revenue from telephone competitions down by approximately $18 million, a drop of 67% on the same period last year.

Flagship web ITV1’s share of commercial impacts — the proportion of overall TV advertising seen by ITV auds — is falling, but more slowly than last year. It decreased by 5.6% to 32.3%, compared with a 9.1% drop during the same period last year.

The overall audience share for ITV’s portfolio, which includes ITV 2, 3, and 4, was down 3.1% to 41.5%.

Ad revenue from multi-channel and breakfast station GMTV, part owned by Disney, increased by 24% to $244 million.

ITV1 has been criticized for jettisoning children’s fare from weekday afternoons, but the move is paying off commercially, indicated the broadcaster.

COO John Cresswell said: “Returning stability in the total TV advertising market has been an important feature of the first half, as has the improving schedule performance and the roll out of itv.com.”

The huge success of talent show “Britain’s Got Talent” has helped drive what commentators are beginning to regard as a recovery for ITV1, especially when compared with perfs at rivals Channel 4 and Five, both struggling in a tough, rapidly fragmenting marketplace.

Alongside Channel 4, the BBC and Five, ITV was caught up in the premium line controversy earlier this year.

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