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Grade faces tough job as ITV1 ad revenues dip 12.5%

LONDON - Net advertising revenue at ITV1 has fallen by 12.5% over 2006, with its share of commercial impacts down 10.4% to 33.3%.

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In a trading statement issued this morning, ITV said that the fall in ad revenues at ITV1 was not as bad as expected, partly because of strong growth in regional television advertising.

Net advertising revenues has fallen by 3% at GMTV for the year but ITV said that revenues had risen by 40% on the ITV digital channels.

ITV, which scored a coup last month when it named Michael Grade as its new executive chairman, was largely upbeat in the statement despite the unhealthy declines, saying that 2006 trading was in line with expectations and that its digital channels were performing well.

It added that it was on target to deliver £40m worth of cost cuts by 2008 and that investment in programming for 2007 would be maintained at around £1bn.

Audience figures at the broadcaster have improved since the autumn schedule came into force, including hits like 'I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here!' on ITV1 and 'X-Factor'. Peak-time audience share has risen to 29%, compared with an average of 27.3% for the year.

John Cresswell, interim chief executive of ITV, said: "2006 trading remains in line with current market expectations and, while the airtime sales environment remains challenging, our digital channels continue to perform strongly. I am delighted to welcome Michael Grade as executive chairman of ITV and we look forward to working with him in the New Year."

Shares in the broadcaster were unchanged at the time of writing, trading at 109.5p.

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