ITV loses advertising revenue much faster than it will lose Friends

Problems at the parent
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The Independent Online

ITV has been badly hit by the downturn in the advertising market. As one media banker put it: "The question for ITV is how do you deal with a recession? Advertising is down about 20 per cent."

One response last week was to make about 600 staff redundant and trim £65m off its programming budget, culminating in £245m in savings by 2011.

Michael Grade, the executive chairman, admitted: "Current conditions in advertising are the most challenging I have experienced in over 30 years in UK broadcasting. This is reflected both in our financial results for 2008 and the tough actions we are announcing today."

The business made a loss of over £2.7bn in 2008, against a £188m pre-tax profit the previous year – and that on a flat turnover of slightly more than £2bn.

The Friends Reunited sale will not make a massive difference to the company's problems, but is at least an acknowledgement that certain aspects of the business could have perhaps been grown more impressively.

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