The Future of Commercial TV

The ITV network in the UK is made up of fifteen regional television broadcasters, each of whom have public service obligations in return for their licences.

The company ITV Plc does not own the network but it does operate a dominating 11 of the fifteen companies. It was formed four years ago.

Since that time the ITV Network has lost its audience lead over the BBC 1. And for the first time in calendar 2007 the combination of ITV and BBC 1 failed to attract even 50% of the available audience in prime time.   A big problem for a public broadcaster and a massive one for a commercial broadcaster.

Michael Grade is the Executive Chairman of ITV Plc and thus the driver of the network. It’s his business to see to ITV’s future and he’s having a hard time of it. The issues he faces are not dissimilar to those faced by Australian free-to-air commercial networks.

This article from The Independent has some good insights into the issues faced by Commercial FTA Broadcasters as they stare into the future. The accompanying article from The Guardian shows what may happen when their plans are not entirely believed.

Implicitly it also raises a whole raft of questions about ad revenues, their impact on share prices, the resultant ramifications for ownership and the nature of public service obligations.

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