ITV to unveil strategy shift

ITV’S new management team is set to use tomorrow’s interim results presentation to unveil plans to move into pay-TV, as part of a radical new strategy to turn the broadcaster around.

Advertising revenues are expected to have improved sharply on 2009, thanks to Britain’s exit from recession, the World Cup, and the continued success of hit shows like the X-Factor.

Chairman Archie Norman and chief executive Adam Crozier will capitalise on the upbeat news to convince shareholders to back a completely new approach.

“Adam will make it clear that ITV is too reliant on free-to-air revenues. Investors should expect a shift, including some move into pay-TV,” a source close to ITV said.

It is understood that ITV is considering a deal with BSkyB, which would see the pay-TV broadcaster get exclusive rights to air ITV 2, 3 and 4 in High Definition (HD).

Norman and Crozier are also said to be mulling plans for a new pay-TV channel that would be targeted at men.

Such a channel would compete directly with UKTV’s Dave, which broadcasts a variety of comedy panel shows and “lads” programmes like repeats of Top Gear.

Analysts expect ad sales to be up by around 20 per cent over the first half, while RBS analyst Paul Godden expects a nine per cent rise in overall revenues to £995m, pushing operating profits from £46m last year to £156m.