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Granada deeper in the red

ITV co. upbeat after paybox closure, awaits ad upswing

LONDON — Granada posted a hefty £191 million ($280 million) first-half loss Thursday, as it counts the cost of the collapse of joint paybox ITV Digital and the advertising recession.

The red ink compares with a loss of $25 million for the same period last year. Sales were down 9% to $1.04 billion.

Granada chairman Charles Allen said that with ITV Digital gone, “We are now putting all of our energies into driving our core broadcasting and content business. The ITV fight back starts now.”

Like fellow ITV company Carlton Communications, Granada was hit by its investment in ITV Digital (Daily Variety, May 29).

Written off $152 mil

It has written off $152 million related to the paybox, which shuttered last month. This was on top of almost $146 million that Granada had to bear as its share of the pay TV firm’s operating losses in the first half.

The company also saw its advertising sales fall 12% in the six months to March 31, but said it expected ad sales to increase 7% in June and 6% in July, aided by ITV’s broadcast of World Cup soccer.

Granada CEO Steve Morrison considered it unlikely that ITV would be targeted for takeover by a non-British company after media regulations are relaxed in the U.K., arguing that most media congloms were distracted by their own problems.

Morrison said the long-anticipated creation of a single ITV company with the merger of Carlton and Granada still made the most sense for the British market.

Meanwhile, Granada Intl. has named Mark Reynolds its head of international factual programming, replacing John Drury, who is leaving to set up his own business.

Reynolds was previously VP, co-production and sales, factual, for the BBC Sales Co. in New York.

His new role, based in London, will entail working with both Granada’s in-house production teams and the company’s international partners and indie producers.