ITV to ax 20% of workforce

Around 1,000 jobs to go at U.K. broadcaster

ITV, Blighty’s biggest commercial terrestrial web, is axing around 1,000 jobs, almost 20% of its workforce, as it battles to implement its turnaround plan and save up to £40 million ($72 million) a year.

Some 430 of the posts will be in news as the web implements cuts to local coverage, a move that unions warned could result in industrial action.

It has already let go 425 staffers after restructuring its finance, press and publicity, brand and commercial and global content divisions. An additional 75 roles are in the “final stages of consultation,” ITV said Tuesday.

ITV is preparing to rationalize its technology division and indicated that by the end of February around 1,000 posts will have been cut. It started the year with about 5,500 staff.

ITV chief operating officer John Cresswell said: “We are committed to a self-help, self-funding solution to securing ITV’s future. To sustain our investment in U.K. content, we have to keep on top of our cost base.”

The web has insisted that it will not cut its $1.8 billion program budget because it is convinced that investment in U.K.-originated shows will help drive its recovery, both at home and overseas.

To that end it has just forked over $8.2 million on a 51.2% stake in German format specialist Imago to boost revenues from international production.

Last week, U.K. television regulator Ofcom effectively greenlit ITV’s plans to reduce local news shows, other regional programs and some public affairs shows, that had been part of its public service broadcasting mission.

This was despite opposition from unions and local pols, who fear audiences in areas outside London and the southeast will lose out.

The economies come as ITV attempts to improve its stock market perf in the face of an economic downturn and a challenging ad market.

Last week Channel 4, which is campaigning for a public subsidy, announced that it will pinkslip 15% of its staffers and trim its program budget by 4%.