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Carolyn McCall: ‘This has been one of the most challenging times in the history of ITV’

Broadcaster has announced its earnings for the first half of 2020

ITV’s CEO Carolyn McCall has admitted the broadcaster has gone through “one of the most challenging times in the history of ITV” as the company announced its earnings for the first half of 2020.

The commercial broadcaster has been severely impacted by the coronavirus and subsequent drop in advertising.

ITV’s total group revenue in the first six months of 2020 dropped to £1.45 billion, down 17 per cent from £1.74 billion over the same period in 2019. ITV Studios’ revenue was also down 17 per cent to £630 million, while advertising revenue fell 21 per cent to £671 million.

In the second quarter, advertising income dropped by 43 per cent — the worst decline in ITV’s 65-year history.

However, McCall did signal a bright note, stating that while “the outlook remains uncertain, today we are seeing an upward trajectory with productions restarting and advertisers returning to take advantage of our highly effective mass reach and addressable advertising platform, in a brand safe environment.”

She added, “The future is still uncertain due to the pandemic but the action we have taken to manage and mitigate the impact of COVID-19 puts us in a good position to continue to invest in our strategy of transforming ITV into a digitally led media and entertainment company.”

Having furloughed 15 per cent of staff in May, ITV said it is now starting to bring those colleagues back to work, stating it now has “fewer than 300 colleagues on furlough.”

To deal with the effects of the pandemic on the business, the broadcaster previously said it intends to save £60 million this year. According to its earnings report, It has already achieved £51 million of its target.

Of 230 productions that were impacted or paused by the pandemic lockdown, “around 70 percent have been delivered or are back in production as of today,” said ITV. “The impact on the rest of the year and 2021 will depend on how quickly Covid-19 restrictions are reduced. We do expect some increased costs of production as a result of Covid-19 measures. We are seeing good demand for library content.”

ITV added that BritBox continues to do well. The North American version has reached 1.2 million subscribers, up from 1 million pre-pandemic, while the UK version is now “on around 20 million devices and in 60 per cent of streaming households.”