U.S. News

ITV Says No Extra Money for Programs in 2007


British broadcaster ITV said on Tuesday it would not be spending extra money on programming in 2007, as it announced trading this year was as bad as had been expected, with ITV1 revenues down 12.5%.

ITV, recently the subject of a bid approach, said in a statement its investment in programmes next year would be in line with 2006's level and it should deliver 40 million pounds ($78 million) of operational efficiency savings by 2008.

Home to talent show "X Factor" and long-running soap opera "Coronation Street", Britain's biggest commercial broadcaster is struggling with a drop in audiences and advertising revenues amid growing competition from digital channels.

It received a boost late last month when it poached the BBC's chairman, Michael Grade, to be its new executive chairman.

Early on, ITV shares were up 0.2% at 109.75 pence.

ITV's troubles led cable firm NTL, whose biggest shareholder is British entrepreneur Richard Branson, to put forwards a bid proposal in November worth 4.7 billion pounds.

News of NTL's approach prompted British pay-TV operator British Sky Broadcasting Group to buy a 17.9% stake in ITV, a move that is being reviewed by regulators.

BskyB's stake-building and a rejection from ITV of NTL's propsal -- ITV said there was "little, if any, strategic logic for ITV to combine with NTL" -- saw NTL drop its bid earlier this month.

A source close to the matter said NTL may take a fresh look if ITV succeeds in persuading regulators to force BSkyB to sell its stake. ITV has complained about BSkyB's move to Britain's Office of Fair Trading and to media regulator Ofcom.