ITV to cut budget again

Company brings in consultants to find savings

LONDON — Another round of cost-cutting at Britain’s biggest private terrestrial web ITV is in the cards — and this time the broadcaster’s $1.5 billion program budget could take a hit.

Chief operating officer John Creswell has hired the Boston Consultancy Group for the second time this year to help identify new areas where savings can be made.

In a memo to staff Cresswell said: “”The need for action is…urgent. We need to accelerate our plans to improve the efficiency of all our operations now.

“There is still a lot more to do, these are extraordinary times for ITV, the economic outlook has worsened significantly since the summer and businesses right across the U.K., including most of our customers, are facing considerable uncertainty.”

Earlier this fall, ITV — badly affected by the poor advertising market as a full-blown recession is set to take hold in Blighty — announced it is axing around 1,000 of its 5,000 or so workforce.

While flagship web ITV1 is outperforming the market thanks to shows like “The X Factor” and the latest run of “I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here!,” its heavy investment in original U.K. drama is far less successful in generating big audiences.

Last week, speaking at the European Media Leaders Summit in London Cresswell indicated that the amount of drama, far more expensive to make than entertainment skeins, could be scaled back on ITV1.

The web’s executive chairman Michael Grade said recently that new drama is increasingly hard to establish in the schedules because of the competition it faces from non-scripted fare.

“It is getting harder and harder for us and the BBC to launch new drama because there is so much real life drama on the screen,” said Grade.

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