Advertisers across all categories were
deferring campaigns in a rapidly changing situation, ITV said as
it also pulled its dividend. The company said it had implemented
contingency plans to enable it to continue to produce news and
ITV's shares fell to an eight-year low of 50 pence at the open
and were trading down 13% at 55 pence at 0812 GMT after Chief
Executive Carolyn McCall said the broadcaster had to make
difficult decisions in "unprecedented and uncertain times".
"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."
ITV had already seen the impact of coronavirus on travel and
tourism, but as Britain ramped up measures to fight the
outbreak, including shutting down all cinemas, pubs and cafes,
it said advertising was being deferred across the board.
But while advertisers have retreated, TV viewing has risen as
Britons stay at home amid government calls for social distancing
or self-isolation to slow the coronavirus spread.
ITV's entertainment show "Saturday Night Takeaway", broadcast
without an audience for the first time due to the coronavirus
crisis, had its biggest ever audience of 9.5 million on
Saturday, accounting for 45% of TV viewers at the time.
The broadcaster said with most recorded TV production on hold,
it expected to benefit from increased demand for its library of
programmes, helped by its relationship with other broadcasters
and platform owners.
(Reporting by Paul Sandle; editing by Kate Holton and Alexander
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