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Ad market still weak says Carlton chairman

LONDON - Carlton chairman Michael Green has said he expects ITV advertising revenues for the five months to May 2002 to fall 12% on last year, but June will see a return by advertisers to the channel for the World Cup.

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Speaking at the company's AGM, Green said that the ad market remains weak and that he was unable to predict with any degree of certainty when it would begin to recover.

He highlighted the success of Pop Idol, admitting that the ITV schedule needed to be strengthened.

Green said: "We continue to ensure the most effective use of ITV1's £1bn annual programme spend. The huge success of Pop Idol this month is proof of ITV's ability to create talked-about-television. Strengthening the overall performance of the ITV1 schedule is a key priority for this year."

Digital channel ITV2 -- which largely carries re-runs of ITV programmes as well as spin-off shows from some of ITV1's core offerings, such as Pop Idol Extra -- has quadrupled its audience since launching on digital satellite in November.

He said: "[ITV2] is already proving more popular than E4, yet with only half the programme budget."

Green said of Carlton's secret talks with ITV partner Granada, which broke down yesterday: "Our objective, as always, was to make Carlton and ITV stronger and more competitive. We will continue to work together with our partners in ITV to deliver value to our customers and our shareholders.

"Discussions with the BBC and other broadcasters and manufacturers regarding free-to-air digital terrestrial television are continuing."

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