ITV admits treating advertisers as adversaries

ITV executive chairman Michael Grade has admitted the broadcaster has been guilty of treating advertisers as “adversaries” as it heads into the 2008 television trading season.

Grade made the comments at an “upfronts” evening for media agencies and senior staff to showcase the broadcasters’ plans and content for 2008.

“We may not always have earned it but we are in the business now of trying to earn support in ways we haven’t in the past,” he said. “We have seen you not always as advertisers but more as adversaries. But we are partners in our recovery and partners for our growth and your growth.”

He promised “more intimate” relationships with advertisers and agencies.

The broadcaster hopes to persuade advertisers to pump back more of the cash it is set to lose through the Contract Rights Renewal mechanism put in place to allow Carlton and Granada to merge. It points to encouraging progress on both ITV1 and its digital portfolio.

Chief operating officer John Cresswell says that although flagship channel ITV is down year-on-year – by 2.4% – it is outperforming its terrestrial rivals. Channel 4’s audience share has dipped 11.3%, Five is down 9.1%, BBC1 at 4.2% and BBC2 down 3.2%. Meanwhile, ITV’s digital portfolio is up 15.2%, compared to a 9.6% change for the rest of the market.

Grade adds: “We have had a much better year than most people dared to predict, including myself. Viewers are coming back, not just from the niche channels but from Channel 4 and most importantly the BBC.”

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