ITV’s latest financial results signal there is some light at the end of the ad-revenue tunnel, although critics question the broadcaster’s long-term business strategy.
ITV reported a 15% drop in ad revenue in the first half of the year although it outperformed the market, which fell 17%.
It is forecasting third quarter ad revenue will be down 12%, while in September it will fall by 7%.
But the fact it is predicting a slowing in decline during such a key month when people head back to work after the summer is reassuring many analysts.
It has also delivered £57m of the £155m of savings announced in March, signalling that its cost-cutting programme is under control.
However, BDO Stoy Hayward head of media Andy Viner points out the bottom line is that the company has lost £105m.
ITV also took a substantial hit from the sale of its social networking site Friends Reunited, which it has sold to Brightsolid, part of publishing company DC Thomson, for £25m. ITV paid £175m to acquire the website in 2005.
ITV also has a net debt of £738m, which has remained broadly unchanged, and its pension deficit has increased from £178m to £538m.
Viner says ITV desperately needs “new blood”, as it continues its hunt for a chief executive to replace executive chairman Michael Grade.
Simon Fox, chief executive of HMV, has now ruled himself out of the running for the position, leaving a shortlist that includes head of Apple Europe Pascal Cagni, former BSkyB chief Tony Ball and Guillaume de Posch, former CEO and chairman of ProSiebenSat.1.