ITV freezes top executives' pay

Follows the BBC and Channel 4 by imposing pay freeze

LONDON -- ITV has followed the BBC and Channel 4 by imposing a pay freeze on its senior executives.

Fighting a worsening ad climate and increased financial strain, the broadcaster has told employees earning more than 60,000 pounds ($85,000) a year that their pay levels will be frozen for 2009.

The freeze will affect about 10% of ITV employees, but staff earning less than the $85,000 threshold will receive up to 2.5% on top of their current salary.

In an e-mail sent to staff, ITV's human relations department said the freeze was intended to offer the fairest deal.

"The board, senior leadership and all employees earning in excess of 60,000 pounds will not receive a pay increase in 2009. Our proposal aims to ensure that those staff who are earning the least benefit the most from the funds that we have available."

ITV commercial managing director Rupert Howell reiterated a call for the government to allow product placement as a much-needed source of funding.

"We are scrapping for our lives at the moment. We need every source of revenue possible -- I don't care how small it is, we need it. We are counting the pennies, not just pounds. Every little helps," he told industry paper Broadcast.

"It probably won't amount to much [to start with], but neither did sponsorship, and that now brings in 50 million pounds ($71 million) a year," Howell added.

A government report on the possibility of allowing product placement is expected later this month.