Private Investor: Bottom-fishers beware: net ITV at your peril...

I don't remember the last time I watched a programme on ITV. I think it would have been some forced consumption of Coronation Street, upon finding myself in the same room as an addict, of which I agree there are plenty. Actually, come to think of it, I did catch News at Ten the other night, and was pleasantly surprised. That, I think, is as far as my exposure to the channel goes.

Probably the most depressing thing about ITV, and this is true for shareholders as much as viewers, is the dreadful bingo and quiz programmes they put on late at night, and which I glance at when I'm channel-hopping. They seem to suggest that this is the only way the channel can make money at that hour of night, and it's a fairly desperate ploy. ITV's results last week suggested that all the action in the company under boss Michael Grade is focused on cost-cutting and attempting to escape its public-service obligations, which it says cost it too much money.

Actually, apart from Sir Trevor and a few bits of regional news, I haven't noticed much in the way of public-service broadcasting on channel three for some time, or much other "quality programming". Over on ITV 3 or ITV 4, I can't recall which, you can occasionally see glimpses of ITV's glorious past – reruns of Upstairs, Downstairs or The Sweeney or even The Professionals. I happen to think that there is no necessary reason why such a level of excellence cannot be aimed at again by ITV, and am slightly surprised that so far Michael Grade hasn't come up with the entertainment.

My point here is that the company doesn't seem to be focusing very much on driving forward a programme-led recovery, which is surely the only sustainable future for ITV.

That's the long-term problem, especially in the new, threatening world of multi-channel digital viewing, which is effectively here already, years before the Government thought.

The short-term problem is the advertising slump, in turn linked to the economic slowdown, but the analysts say that ITV is performing relatively well here compared to its competitors, so maybe that's not such a big concern if you're thinking about buying the shares.

I did own some ITV shares during a previous share-price slump, but sold out shortly after Sky took their 17 per cent stake. The price then, not much more than a year ago, was 100p; now ITV stands at less than half that. So is it now a bargain, even with its short- and long-term problems?

Maybe, because clearly it is a takeover target. When the Sky shares go back into play, so will the company. Over the years it has been linked to a variety of more or less unlikely suitors, including interest from private equity. Conditions are obviously not so good for that band of capitalist buccaneers these days, but one day they will be back.

Meanwhile, the usual media world suspects such as Endemol stay in the frame, with some quite substantial-sounding rumours about their ambitions to swallow ITV.

So at least, in the short term, the bid speculation should make ITV an interesting little punt, and provide some sort of floor for the share price, even as the dividend is slashed and may be slashed again. And people are still watching Coronation Street.

Yet I like my shares to have some positives for the long term as well, if only because, very often, supposedly inevitable takeovers take an extremely long time to turn up. And, as I say, I'd be a lot happier about that if I could see any signs that ITV was planning to end what seems to me an unhealthy reliance on Corrie.

In any case, like many punters, I'm finding it more and more difficult to take advantage of any weakness in share prices because I find myself being hit by the credit crunch and the commodities crunch. If you're lucky enough to have plenty of cash lying around, now must be the time to go bottom-fishing.

ITV might or might not be on your list – it probably wouldn't be on mine for the reasons I've given – but most of the beleaguered banks should be, and the airlines too.

When the credit crunch finally plays itself out there will be a few survivors, even in the toughest of business environments such as travel and finance. Picking a few of the stronger brethren now should pay off handsomely. If you've got the cash, that is.

Independent Partners; request a free guide on NISAs from Hargreaves Lansdown

Arts and Entertainment
Joe Cocker performing on the Stravinski hall stage during the Montreux Jazz Festival, in Montreux, Switzerland in 2002
musicHe 'turned my song into an anthem', says former Beatle
Clarke Carlisle
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho
footballLatest score and Twitter updates
Arts and Entertainment
David Hasselhof in Peter Pan
theatreThe US stars who've taken to UK panto, from Hasselhoff to Hall
Life and Style
Approaching sale shopping in a smart way means that you’ll get the most out of your money
life + styleSales shopping tips and tricks from the experts
newsIt was due to be auctioned off for charity
Life and Style
A still from a scene cut from The Interview showing North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's death.
Sir David Attenborough
environment... as well as a plant and a spider
'That's the legal bit done. Now on to the ceremony!'
voicesThe fight for marriage equality isn't over yet, says Siobhan Fenton
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    The Jenrick Group: Night Shift Operations Manager

    £43500 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: Night Shift Operatio...

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - LONDON

    £20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000 + Car + Pension: SThree: SThree are a ...

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

    £20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £35K: SThree: We consistently strive to be the...

    SThree: Graduate Recruitment Consultant

    £20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £35000: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 b...

    Day In a Page

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

    Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
    Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

    Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

    Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
    Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

    Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
    Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

    Autism-friendly theatre

    Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

    Panto dames: before and after

    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

    Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
    The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

    The man who hunts giants

    A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
    The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

    The 12 ways of Christmas

    We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
    Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

    The male exhibits strange behaviour

    A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
    Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

    Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

    Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
    From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

    From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

    The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
    A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

    A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

    The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'