ITV shifts its schedule to stem tide


ITV executive chairman Michael Grade said the broadcaster will eliminate 600 more jobs as it scraps its growth targets and refocuses its core programming mix toward entertainment.

After the broadcaster announced Wednesday that it had lost £2.7 billion ($3.8 billion) in 2008 on revenue off 3% to $2.8 billion, Grade said ITV will cut $198 million during the next two years from its $1.4 billion-a-year program budget and reduce drama hours to make room for less-expensive, higher-rated entertainment shows.

Grade said executives are working on re-engineering the schedule to cut original drama output by an hour a week and add midweek entertainment shows.

"We will focus more on peak time, move off-peak into peak time," Grade said. "There's an adjustment of the mix, with more entertainment midweek, which I think audiences are in the mood for — they're not getting a lot of fun out of the news."

ITV shares were down 3% Wednesday at 23 pence (32 cents) on the news, which Grade said comes in response to an ad market down 17% year-over-year. ITV pink-slipped about 1,000 at the end of last year. (partialdiff)