ITV revenue hit by phone-in row

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

In a trading statement issued to the London Stock Exchange ahead of ITV's annual general meeting Thursday, the company said advertising at its core channel ITV1 was down 9.6% for the six months to 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," said Grade.

'We are taking steps to stabilize our core business and ensure future growth by reviewing the best allocation of our current resources," he added.

He also said that income levels had been hit by the suspension of ITV's premium-rate phone line-driven quizzes. 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 chairman of the BBC.
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