Bonfire Of The Broadcasters: ITV, Five Cuts Expected; C4/BT Vision Merger Mooted

imageWith its full-year earnings, coming this Wednesday morning, ITV (LSE: ITV) is expected to underscore its rapidly disappearing sales by announcing a further programme of cutbacks. The broadcast industry is under pressure from falling ad sales and fragmenting audiences. TV ad spend is forecast to drop 7.7 percent this year, with ITV and C4 down 10 percent, as prices reach an all-time low, Screen Digest forecasts. Suddenly, all options appear on the table with a flurry of reorganisations floated…

ITV: Numerous news orgs this weekend repeated’s recent understanding ITV will make 500 new redundancies from its 4,500-strong workforce on Wednesday – just six months after cutting deep with 1,000 layoffs in September.

All kinds of other cost cuts appear on the table, according to recent reports, including selling Friends Reunited, selling its SDN Freeview multiplex operator, cutting the drama budget. But the idea of a super-merger with Channel 4 and Five, reported to have been proposed as one option to the Digital Britain report as the government seeks a viable public TV funding model, has been largely mocked as a kite-flying exercise that underlines ITV’s true desperation.

Five: says the broadcaster will on Thursday lay off around 100 of its 350 staff, citing a source. A spokesperson said the company will be “speaking to staff (this) week”.

Channel 4 & BT (NYSE: BT) Vision?: More Digital Britain chatter (or perhaps more kite flying?) – says BT could merge its IPTV operations with Channel 4, which increasingly is looking like the kingmaker. C4 chair Luke Johnson is quoted as “fully supporting” the move, but there’s scant detail of any kind. Such a deal may, hypothetically, allow BBC Worldwide to buy BT out of its unpopular TV platform, which could be set aside for C4. Channel 4 last month proposed its own VOD service to Freeview PVRs.

(Photo: MrJerz)