Grade: Outlook positive despite ad downturn

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ITV executive chairman Michael Grade on Thursday said that Britain's leading commercial broadcaster expects half-year advertising revenue to be down 5.7% across the group, but noted that the U.K. advertising market is "slowly improving."

In a trading statement issued to the London Stock Exchange ahead of ITV's annual general meeting, the company said advertising at its core channel ITV1 was down 9.6% for the six months through the end of June, but predicted a more positive outlook for the rest of the year.

"I'm encouraged by the progress we've made so far this year, but there is still a great deal more to do," Grade said. "We are taking steps to stabilize our core business and ensure future growth by reviewing the best allocation of our current resources."

He also said that income levels have been hit by the suspension of ITV's call-in quiz shows. ITV and other U.K. terrestrial broadcasters have suspended such services pending the outcome of an inquiry into fraud allegations.

"The poor execution of these services across the sector has reduced consumer confidence and is having a material impact on premium-rate telephone services revenues," he said.

Grade, who joined ITV in January, was formerly chairman of the BBC.
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