Leading article: Broadcasting their mistakes

Share
Related Topics

The ITV chairman Michael Grade might see his network's future increasingly in entertainment broadcasting, but there was nothing in the company's financial results to amuse shareholders yesterday. Mr Grade announced a slide in profits, massive asset write-offs and a suspension of dividend payments. The 600 job cuts announced will trim costs, but the contraction inspires little confidence that ITV's best days still lie ahead.

In one sense, the fact that ITV is struggling hardly comes as a surprise. The days when its broadcasting rights were considered a "licence to print money" are now a distant memory, and its business model has come under tremendous external pressures in recent years. Revenues have been hammered by the migration of advertising to the internet, and total advertising volumes are now being brutally squeezed by the recession. ITV also has the relentless competition of the recession-proof BBC – with its guaranteed £3bn a year of licence-fee money – to cope with. It is hardly surprising that ITV wants to shed some of its public service broadcasting commitments when it is up against a well-funded leviathan like Auntie in so many areas.

Yet the broadcaster's present and previous management teams cannot escape all responsibility for the plight in which ITV finds itself. Its difficulties cannot be solely ascribed to the "short-term horrors" of the downturn, as Mr Grade put it yesterday. The acquisition of the Friends Reunited website for £120m three years ago was misguided; ITV is now trying to sell the site and will probably register a fat loss.

ITV also paid too much for its sports broadcasting rights and has been investing too little in high-quality drama and documentaries in recent years. This last error should give its investors most cause for concern. When the analogue signal is finally switched off in 2012 and the digital era proper begins, there will be a new equality among free-to-air, private sector broadcasters. In a multi-channel age, none will enjoy special privileges; all that will distinguish them will be the quality of their output. The successful channels will be innovative and creative. ITV has still not fully switched on to that reality.

React Now

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Move from Audit to Advisory

£45000 per annum + benefits: Pro-Recruitment Group: Move from Audit to Advisor...

Management Consultancy - Operational Research Analysts

£35000 - £50000 per annum + Bonus + Benefits: Pro-Recruitment Group: You must ...

Secondary Teaching Assistant

£60 - £70 per day: AER Teachers: THE SCHOOL: This outstanding Secondary School...

Application Support Analyst (MS SQL, java based webserver, batch scripting)

£36000 - £40000 Per Annum On call allowance.: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

i Editor’s Letter: Britain's sexism

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
 

Nigel Farage: I’m taking on the status quo, and the Establishment’s fighting back

Nigel Farage
Homelessness: Why is the supported lodgings lifeline under threat?

Why is the supported lodgings lifeline under threat?

Zubairi Sentongo swapped poverty in Uganda for homelessness in Britain. But a YMCA scheme connected him with a couple offering warmth and shelter
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: When the world’s biggest shed took over Regent’s Park

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

When the world’s biggest shed took over Regent’s Park
The pain of IVF

The pain of IVF

As an Italian woman vows to keep the babies from someone else’s eggs, Julian Baggini ponders how the reality of childbirth is often messier than the natural ideal
Supersize art

Is big better? Britain's latest super-sized art

The Kelpies are the latest addition to a growing army of giant sculptures. But naysayers are asking what a pair of gigantic horse heads tells us about Falkirk?
James Dean: Back on the big screen

James Dean: Back on the big screen

As 'Rebel without a Cause' is re-released, Geoffrey Macnab reveals how its star perfected his moody act
Catch-22: How the cult classic was adapted for the stage

How a cult classic was adapted for the stage

More than half a century after it was published 'Catch-22' will make its British stage debut next week
10 best activity books for children

10 best activity books for children

Keep little ones busy this bank holiday with one of these creative, educational and fun books
Arsenal 3 West Ham United 1: Five things we learnt from the battle between the London sides

Five things we learnt from Arsenal's win over West Ham

Arsenal still in driving seat for Champions League spot and Carroll can make late charge into England’s World Cup squad
Copa del Rey final: Barcelona are paying for their complacency and not even victory over Real Madrid will put things right

Pete Jenson on the Copa del Rey final

Barcelona are paying for their complacency and not even victory over Real Madrid will put things right
Rafa to reign? Ten issues clay courts will serve up this season

Rafa to reign? Ten issues clay courts will serve up this season

With the tennis circus now rolling on to the slowest surface, Paul Newman highlights who'll be making the headlines – and why
Exclusive: NHS faces financial disaster in 2015 as politicians urged to find radical solution

NHS faces financial disaster in 2015

Politicians urged to find radical solution
Ukraine crisis: How spontaneous are the pro-Russian protests breaking out in Ukraine’s east?

Ukraine crisis

How spontaneous are the pro-Russian protests breaking out in Ukraine’s east?
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: The first execution at the Tower of London for 167 years

The first execution at the Tower of London for 167 years

A history of the First World War in 100 moments
Fires could turn Amazon rainforest into a desert as human activity and climate change threaten ‘lungs of the world’, says study

New threat to the Amazon rainforest:

Fires that scorch the ‘lungs of the Earth’
Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester City: And the winner of this season’s Premier League title will be...

Who’s in box seat now? The winner of the title will be ...

Who is in best shape to take the Premier League prize?