ITV H1 net advertising revenue down

LONDON (Reuters) - Struggling broadcaster ITV expects net first-half advertising revenues to fall 16 percent, an acceleration from a 15 percent decline in the first quarter, but said it was outperforming the market.

ITV, the country's largest free-to-air commercial broadcaster, said Thursday it was making good progress towards its target of cutting costs by 155 million pounds this year, and said it would make an extra 40 million in cuts in 2010.

"The television advertising market remains weak. However, ITV continues to outperform the market," executive chairman Michael Grade, who will step down from day-to-day duties by the end of the year, said in a statement.

The television industry has been hit hard by deep cuts to corporate advertising budgets coupled with an explosion in the number of competing digital channels.

In addition, ITV is obliged to produce a certain amount of local news, religious and children's programming -- in return for which it enjoys near-universal access to British households.

ITV's total first-quarter revenue fell 14 percent to 425 million pounds. It held its audience share at 23.4 percent.

ITV said in March that current advertising conditions were the worst in decades. It dumped mid-term targets, wrote down its broadcasting and online assets by 2.7 billion pounds, suspended its dividend and said it would cut an extra 600 jobs.

(Reporting by Georgina Prodhan; Editing by Dan Lalor)

($1 = 0.6592 pound)

Article Published: 14/05/2009