Within just a few hours of the controversial presenter quitting, the broadcaster’s share price had fallen by 6.5 per cent, enough to wipe about £320m from its total value.
“I wouldn’t believe it if she read me a weather report,” he said.
The remarks prompted both an on-air rebuke by Good Morning Britain’s weather presenter Alex Beresford, who condemned Morgan’s “diabolical behaviour”, and more than 40,000 complaints to Ofcom, which said it would begin an investigation.
Meghan herself is reported to have complained to ITV directly about Morgan’s comments.
ITV’s share price had been slowly recovering in recent months since a catastrophic more than 50 per cent collapse last year during the coronavirus pandemic.
Its broadcast of the much-anticipated Oprah interview with Meghan and Prince Harry drew a peak audience of 12.4 million on Monday evening.
The following day’s drama between Morgan and Beresford pulled in 1.29 million viewers, meaning Good Morning Britain narrowly beat its rival BBC Breakfast for the first time.
But the departure of the contentious host the following day seems to have spooked investors, with the share price sliding 6.5 per cent by lunchtime on Wednesday.
It has since recovered some ground but remained on Thursday about 4 per cent down on Tuesday, meaning ITV is worth about £200m less on the markets.
“Investors may be a little worried about the loss of ratings for GMB. It wasn’t exactly doing that well before he joined and its primetime slot will have repercussions for ads,” said markets analyst Neil Wilson.
“Love or loathe, Morgan boosted ratings. It could also be that investors are worried about an investigation over comments made by Morgan on air.”
The broadcaster’s profits slumped 39 per cent last year during the worst of the coronavirus crisis, falling from £530m in 2019 to £325m in 2020. This was largely caused by the largest fall in advertising in ITV’s history in April, as the first lockdown began.
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