MEDIA: Advertisers warn ITV over share drop

Advertisers and agencies have reacted stoically to further signs of decline in ITV's audience share, but have stated that complacency about the channel's performance will not be tolerated.

BBC One widened last year's narrow lead over ITV1 in all-time by 2.1%, averaging a 26.1% audience share for the year compared with 24% for ITV according to unofficial overnights.

"ITV has not done particularly well against the BBC, said Carat broadcast director Mark Jarvis. " The key is how to manage decline. ITV will need to throw even more money at the schedule and to be quicker and cleverer than the opposition."

"We are waiting for ITV to reach the bottom of the curve and then to level out," said OMD UK broadcast director Marc Bignell. "That's what's happened to the big channels in the US that lost out to the cable channels. The challenge for ITV is to stem the loss and hold on to what it's got."

There was better news for ITV in peak where it maintained its lead over BBC One averaging a 31.5% share compared to BBC One's 27.9%. This compares with a 34.8% peak time share for ITV1 in 2001 and a 27.9% share for BBC One.

MediaVest managing director Chris Locke said that after a disastrous first half of 2002 ITV is turning the corner, helped by £100m investment in programming. "BBC One is going to have to go some way to compete," he said.

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