Grade calls for more risks as ITV revenues fall

LONDON - Executive chairman Michael Grade admitted that ITV faces another year of revenue decline as he revealed a fall in pre-tax profits to £288m during 2006, compared with £311m in 2005.

Grade, delivering his first set of results since taking over from Charles Allen at the helm, said ITV had to take more risks in its programming, claiming that there had been a lack of innovation, partly as a result of what he called the "punitive consequences" of the contract rights renewal system.

Getting rid of CRR was one of his main priorities, said Grade, but his comments about ITV's programming, particularly on ITV1, put further pressure on Simon Shaps, director of television, who many have speculated may be under threat from Grade's arrival.

ITV's digital stable was far and away the highlight of the broadcaster's results, with revenue up 41% at £157m in 2006, partly offsetting ITV1 net advertising revenue, which was down 12% at £1,281m.

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