ITV expects 9% fall in ad revenue

Michael Grade blames 'tough economic conditions'

LONDON -- ITV executive chairman Michael Grade said “tough economic conditions” were behind a 2.5% fall in net advertising revenue for the nine months to the end of September 2008 to 1.47 billion pounds ($2.36 billion) and predicted a 9% fall in advertising in the fourth quarter.

Online revenue was also predicted to fall for 2008 and into 2009, ITV said, sending the broadcaster’s shares lower by 1 pence to 30.3 pence (48 cents).

Publishing ITV’s interim management statement ITV Thursday, Grade said that despite the losses ITV had outperformed the television market as a whole, which he said fell by 3.2% over the nine-month period and is forecast to fall 9.4% by the end of the year.

ITV has opted to put its online operations under the charge of director of television Peter Fincham, in a move that sees the departure of digital and interactive businesses head Jeff Henry, who will leave by the end of the year.

Identifying online video as a bright spot that was growing “spectacularly,” Grade said 82 million videos has been downloaded from ITV-branded web sites over the period.

“Now is the time to integrate our online video sites editorially with our broadcast business as mass market channels in their own right and drive the advertising opportunity from that proven consumer demand

ITV said it was also “on course” to deliver cost savings of over 75 million pounds ($120 million) over the next two years from regional news cutbacks.