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Despite the general fall in advertising revenues, ITV toppers predicted Thursday that ad revs at the commercial web would rise 3% in the first six months of 2005.

That reps a fall from last year’s 4.7% growth but was enough to cheer shareholders — shares rose 3 pence (5¢) or 2.6%, to close at $2.15 in London. They have gained 12.4% this year.

Many media groups have suffered badly from the downturn in ad spending in recent months.

ITV operates terrestrial channel ITV1, digital nets ITV2, ITV3 and the ITV News Channel and it owns 75% of the GMTV breakfast channel.

ITV News and GMTV are expected to drive growth. Perfs at the other three channels are expected to be broadly in line with last year.

ITV also confirmed that its new ITV4 digital web will be male-skewed, although it did not give programming details.

Earlier this year, ITV reported pre-tax profits up by 57% to $619 million.