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ITV rejigs schedule, suffers ad decline

UK commercial broadcaster ITV will stop airing daytime shows Lorraine and Loose Women from today and has suspended filming of long-running soaps Coronation Street and Emmerdale due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Carolyn McCall

ITV said the daily live broadcasts of Lorraine and Loose Women will be put on hold to minimise the number of staff travelling in and out of its studios and working together on shift at any one time.

In place of Lorraine, ITV will run an extended version of Good Morning Britain from 06.00 to 10.00 every day, during which Lorraine’s host, actor Lorraine Kelly, will join Piers Morgan in the studio for the last hour at 09.00.

This Morning will continue as normal at 10.00-12.30, following which ITV will broadcast re-runs of Loose Women during its usual 12.30-13.30 slot.

“We’re focusing our efforts on providing to viewers the latest news on the rapidly changing situation which aims to offer some stability and continuity in all our lives whilst so many of us are at home right now. That’s why we have taken this tough decision to protect our GMB News programme in the morning and keep This Morning on air for as long as possible,” ITV said in a statement.

“We have been reducing our crew numbers over the past week and these changes will enable us to reduce them further and help us build further resilience with the aim of daytime content continuing to air for as long as possible.”

In line with the suspension of production on Coronation Street and Emmerdale, ITV is also reducing transmissions of Emmerdale from five episodes per week to three episodes per week, starting from Monday March 30.

Emmerdale will now air on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at the usual time of 19.00, followed by Coronation Street at 19.30 on the same nights. ITV said this will ensure episodes of both soaps will air at least until the early summer.

ITV also released a trading statement today, in which it said the recent restrictions on working practices are having a “significant impact” on its ability to film productions, but that it is pausing productions in a “systematic manner” to ensure it is well placed to resume production as soon as it is able to and to minimise the cost of disruption.

The company noted that despite the issues it is facing, its ITV Studios production and distribution arm expects to benefit from increased demand in library sales.

The ITV network, however, is experiencing deferrals in advertising due to the closure of shops, factories and entertainment facilities in response to government recommendations. ITV said each 1% decline in advertising revenue over a full year reduces revenue and profit by around £17m (US$19.7 m).

In light of a weaker advertising environment, ITV expects to reduce its programme budget by at least £100m, which reflects savings from sport including the postponement of the Euro 2020 football tournament, the late delivery of commissioned programming and decisions to reduce spending.

ITV CEO Carolyn McCall said: “We are operating in unprecedented and uncertain times, requiring us to take difficult decisions, plan carefully and act with speed. 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. We are actively taking measures to reduce costs and manage our cash flow so that we are best positioned to continue to deliver our strategy of building a digitally-led media and entertainment company over the medium term.”


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