ITV: Pre-tax loss of £105m

ITV has reported pre-tax losses of £105m in the first six months of the year as revenue from TV advertising fell 15 per cent.

The broadcasting giant said today the hunt for a replacement to outgoing chief executive, Michael Grade, was progressing as expected as it reported a year on year revenue fall of 11 per cent to £909m.

Presenting its half-year financial results, ITV said television advertising suffered its worst year-on-year decline on record over the first half of the year as the market dropped 17 per cent. Against this, the company said, its 15 per cent fall of £108m out performed the market.

Grade – who will stay on in a non-executive role after he stands down as chief executive – said since the end of June the market conditions had eased.

He said: “Our financial results for the half year reflect the impact of the unprecedented downturn in television advertising, offset by the comprehensive action we are taking in mitigation.

“The rate of market decline has eased slightly in the second half and ITV continues to outperform the market.”

The company said it had offset declining TV advertising through extensive cost savings, delivering £57m of cost savings across programming and off-screen over the first half of 2009.

In addition, it said it was on-course to deliver at least £155m of total savings over the full year, rising to £215m in 2010 and £285m in 2011.

Debt remained at £728m, the company said, as total operating earnings before interest tax and exceptional items fell by 62 per cent from £121m in the first half of last year to £46m.

Broadcasting revenue fell by £110m from £849m in the first half of last year to £739m in the same period this year.

Online revenue was up six per cent to £18m with itv.com revenues increasing by 100 per cent to £10m.

The company revealed its half-year financial reports just prior to announcing that it had sold Friends Reunited to Brightsolid, a subsidiary of regional newspaper publisher DC Thomson, for £25m just four years after buying it for around £170m.

Revenue from ITV’s global content division was up four per cent to £296m.

The company said no dividend would be drawn by shareholders.

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