ITV cuts programme budget by £100m

Simon Austin's picture

ITV has withdrawn market guidance for the year and cut its programme budget by £100m in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

In a trading update, Chief Executive Carolyn McCall said discretionary spending would be cut by £20m as well.

"We are operating in unprecedented and uncertain times, requiring us to take difficult decisions, plan carefully and act with speed,” McCall said. “Our absolute priority is to protect our people, while trying to ensure that we deliver the news and programmes our viewers value and love to watch, and to keep them informed. 

“We are actively taking measures to reduce costs and manage our cash flow so that we are best positioned to continue to deliver our strategy of building a digitally-led media and entertainment company over the medium term.”

Demand for ITV’s library of programming has increased, but the broadcaster has been hit hard by the postponement of Euro 2020 and the implications of social distancing measures.

“Demand for quality content remains strong and therefore we continue to work on our development slate and we are ready to resume production as soon as we are able,” McCall added. 

“As one of the largest international producers of unscripted content which has a shorter lead time, we will be able to ramp up production quickly. We have seen further deferrals in advertising which are now coming from across the advertiser categories rather than just in travel and we are staying in close contact and working constructively with our client and agency partners. 

“The situation remains dynamic and therefore we are not in a position today to give guidance for March or April. We will update again at our Q1 Trading Update in May. Over a full year, each 1% decline in total advertising revenue reduces revenue and profit by c.£17 million, before any mitigation.

“We will continue to execute our strategy over the medium term and will carefully monitor our ongoing investment in the ITV Hub, Planet V and BritBox in 2020, as we continue to build a digital media and entertainment company.”

On 16th March, ITV revealed it had £150m of unrestricted cash, a £630m Revolving Credit Facility expiring in December 2023, of which £100m is currently drawn, and a £300m undrawn bilateral facility expiring in June 2021.