Quiz scandal hits ITV profits


Quiz scandal hits ITV profits
ITV has revealed its revenues have been hit by the recent scandals over the premium rate phone line quizzes operated by the company and other broadcasters.

Last month ITV1's breakfast programme GMTV was forced to apologise over "irregularities" with its phone-in quiz for viewers after it emerged that many people who called or texted to enter the competitions had no chance of winning.

Other programmes including the BBC's Blue Peter children's show and ITV's The X Factor have been the subject of similar allegations and industry regulator Icstis has now introduced tough new rules regarding premium rate phone competitions.

ITV, which stressed it had been the first company to launch an independent review of its premium rate telephone services (PRTS) in light of the scandal, admitted today its revenues had been hit nonetheless.

In a statement for its annual general meeting (AGM) the broadcaster confirmed that its PRTS revenue dropped by around 20 per cent in March and April.

The company added that it remained concerned about the long-term impact on consumer confidence in the services.

"The poor execution of these services across the sector has reduced consumer confidence and is having a material impact on PRTS revenues," ITV said.

Commenting, ITV chairman Michael Grade said: "The board takes the PRTS issues very seriously and is committed to publishing the findings of the current independent review of PRTS in ITV programming."

ITV, which closed its ITV Play channel but kept its programmes running during the night on ITV1 and ITV2, also warned that its advertising revenue is down.

Ad revenues for the first half of 2007 at ITV1 are down 9.6 per cent against last year, while ITV's total take from advertising is down 5.7 per cent.

Mr Grade stressed that he was "encouraged" by the progress made so far this year by the company and said the relaunch of ITV's website would allow the broadcaster to continue growing its share of online revenues.

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