ITV chief takes swipe at Dyke over failed bid

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The Independent Online

Charles Allen, the chief executive of ITV, derided Greg Dyke's failed takeover bid for the group yesterday, even as the broadcaster reported worse-than-expected advertising forecasts for the coming months.

Speaking after the company's annual meeting in London, Mr Allen said he had been very "disappointed" by the offer from the former BBC director-general, and that he did not it believe was "serious".

"I was very disappointed," he told reporters after the meeting. "That bid has been around for two years and there was nothing new in it. There was nothing I wanted to steal from it."

The statements came as ITV said it was expecting to see a 1.6 per cent drop in advertising at its main ITV1 channel during the second quarter of 2006, in spite of having had high hopes for June because of the football World Cup. Across the company's channels, June advertising is expected to be up 2 per cent for the second quarter.

The broadcaster has since discovered, however, that many companies have decided to hold back from advertising in June as they believe many women will not be watching television because of the likely saturation coverage of the World Cup.

ITV also revealed its share of adult viewing figures on its main terrestrial channel had continued to diminish in the first 15 weeks of the year, as viewers defected to digital channels. The company's share of viewers for ITV1 fell from 38.8 per cent to 34.9 per cent over the period. However, the group gained viewers on its digital channels, ITV2, ITV3 and ITV4. Overall, the group expects its net revenue from advertising to be down 4 per cent during the first half.

Last week, ITV lost out on the live television rights for Premiership football to BSkyB and Setanta. Mr Allen said he believed there was, in effect, a monopoly in that market.

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