Review of the year - TV

Review of the year - TV

Most broadcasters have had a rough ride this year, but for ITV, 2001 is definitely one to forget.

No one could have predicted the overall advertising market was going to finish the year down a staggering 12% year on year.

The two ITV companies have been forced into making severe cutbacks.

Just last month, Granada announced 430 jobs were to be slashed, meaning the company will have shed more than a 1,000 staff by the end of March 2002, with a full-year loss of £186m, including £234m ploughed into its digital and online operations.

Carlton also revealed 300 staff have been axed and another 100 are to go as it announced a pre-tax loss of £409m.

But ITV had started the year well, Granada signing a £2m deal with T&T drinks to sponsor Popstars (pictured), which was to turn into one of the biggest hits of the year.

The show attracted up to 12 million viewers, a massive 48% audience share.

However, 2001 was also to see programming own goals.

One of ITV's most costly mistakes was Survivor (pictured). Billed as the TV sensation of the year, it attracted only about 5.2 million viewers on average.

Awe over Granada's news that Coca-Cola had paid £50m to sponsor ITV's The Premiership in a three-year deal also soon turned to criticism as Saturday evening's substitute for the BBC's Match of the Day performed disastrously in peak time, netting an average 4.5 million viewers.

As a result, Coca-Cola will pay Granada £4.5m less than originally agreed for the deal and following massive pressure, the network moved the show to the later slot of 10.30pm.

In October, ITV recorded its lowest peak-time ratings ever.

Last year's average share for the network was 35.3%, but during that month it plummeted to an average of 29.5%.

Revenue disasters

However, the biggest story of the year was not the ratings disasters but the alarming drop in revenue - the network has lost more than £200m.

Increased globalization, foot and mouth disease and the failure of online companies were being blamed during the year, with foot and mouth disease alone estimated to cost the network £20m.

In April, ITV finally found a new chief executive in Stuart Prebble, the Ondigital chief, filling the vacancy left by Richard Eyre more than 18 months earlier.

One of the biggest shocks was John Hardie's decision to quit the network as commercial and marketing director to take up a position at Walt Disney.

ITV poached Jim Hytner from Channel 5 to be its new marketing chief. Another senior appointment was made in
September when Granada announced Zenith's Graham Duff was to become chief executive of Granada Enterprises, a move met with universal approval from the agencies.

The widespread rumour that he was going in to act as a Grim Reaper to Granada's sales team is yet to ring true, despite cuts elsewhere. His appointment was made following Mick Desmond's promotion as managing director of the new Granada Platforms division.

Granada's chairman Charles Allen made one of the gaffes of 2001 when he wrote to the Government warning ITV faced disaster if was not allowed to join with Carlton to create one ITV.

The letter was condemned
by Carlton chairman Michael Green and was seen as a major
faux pas by the industry.

A more positive move came at the beginning of July when ITV was rebranded to ITV1 in an effort to better reflect the family of brands.

July also saw the launch of ITV Sport amid much fanfare. However, the channel, already in financial trouble, is said to be
renegotiating its Nationwide Football League contract and is yet to sign a deal with BSkyB to get on the digital platform.

That is something which, after a three-year saga, ITV managed to achieve for its ITV1 and
ITV2 channels, in November announcing a £17m deal with Sky.

Early indications have shown the move to be hugely beneficial for ITV2, although the initial impacts for ITV1 have proved more marginal.

Channel 4 began 2001 with the hugely successful launch of its own offshoot, E4.

Since then, 70% of 16 to 34-year-olds have viewed the channel, although despite some home-grown hits, such as Banzai, Lost and Bar Wars, most of its success so far has come from American imports.

C4's revenue is now down by 4.1%, a loss of £26m -  still not bad compared to other broadcasters, but it has had to make cutbacks.

In November, 4 Ventures closed its interactive department as a stand-alone business, merging it with pay-TV operations, in a bid to halve its £70m-a-year loss.

In July, C4 was rocked by the news that its chief executive Michael Jackson was quitting to become president and chief executive of USA Entertainment Group. His replacement, Mark Thompson, the BBC's director of television, has a challenging job ahead.

This year, Horseferry Road also lost Kevin Lygo, one of C4's brightest talents to Channel 5 and the man behind the success of So Graham Norton, Ali G and Trigger Happy TV. He also persuaded Andrew Newman, E4's director of programmes, to join him at C5.

To replace Lygo, C4 poached BBC's head of entertainment Danielle Lux.

C4 also snatched more BAFTA awards this year than the BBC and signed Richard and Judy from ITV.

Big Brother II was a massive success, becoming the TV sensation of the summer. More people voted in the finale of Big Brother IIthan in the General Election.

Channel 5 has had a depressing year revenue wise, down by 7.7% year on year, and the loss of marketing chief Jim Hytner to ITV was a severe blow.

High Five

However, there have been
triumphs, not least Dawn Airey's decision to stay at C5 even though C4
extensively courted her.

It signed its biggest sponsorship deal - Bodyform paying £3m to sponsor the Aussie soap Home and Away, which has rejuvenated its early evening schedule, consistently netting a 10% share. The £1m marketing campaign to support the launch was also its biggest ever.

C5 was also given an extra £6m to spend on original programming by its shareholders, RTL and United Business Media.

C5 is also to welcome back newsreader Kirsty Young from ITV and scored another coup last month when it persuaded the team behind Top Gear to star in its new show Fifth Gear.

Among other big TV stories was the battle over the ITV news contract which saw a consortium, including CBS and BSkyB challenge ITN, placing its very future in danger.

ITN went on to win the contract, but has paid a heavy price.  the new £36m deal, worth £10m less than before, will result in about 90 jobs being slashed.

Scottish Media Group, owner of two Scottish TVfranchises,  also had a rough year, with 100 staff axed in view of the decline in ad revenue. Recently the company appointed Deloitte & Touche to review its financial position after running up £365m of debt and their French investment bank BNP Paribas is said to be planning to buy the company.

Amid the carnage in the commercial sector, the BBC has had a good year. For the first time its all-time share of viewing was higher than ITV's and in an ironic twist BBC Worldwide announced record profits. With the help of Bob The Builder, the corporation's commercial arm posted a £96m profit.

The BBC came under attack for its proposed new digital channels. the two children's channels and BBC4 got the thumbs up from culture secretary Tessa Jowell, but she rejected BBC3, claiming the proposed youth channel was too lightweight.

The corporation has since renewed its bid, adding at least 95 hours of current affairs, education, music and arts.

This year, senior marketer at Unilever foods Andy Duncan replaced Matthew Bannister as director of marketing and communications.

He has introduced new idents to BBC2 and revealed the
BBC1 balloon logo is to be replaced.

The BBC has not been without its flops. It signed an unprecedented multi-million pound deal with Olympic boxing gold medal winner Audley Harrison, only for viewers to stay away, and a £3m two-year deal with Johnny Vaughan, whose comedy drama 'Orrible bombed.

However, it has won critical acclaim with documentaries such as Blue Planet and its
spectacular series
Walking With Beasts, which harnessed interactive technology, also used to great success in coverage of national sporting events such as the Golf British Open and Wimbledon.

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