ITV to launch +1 version of ITV2

ITV confirmed on Wednesday that a one-hour timeshifted version of ITV2 will launch on cable and satellite later this year.

The move was announced as ITV outlined to shareholders the expected impact of digital switchover on the broadcaster's business. Noting that "there will inevitably be a reduction in the number of viewers to ITV1," ITV said that it plans to focus on building its multichannel presence, adding that there will be an extra 20m available for multichannel investment in 2007.

At the same time that viewers desert its flagship terrestrial network, revenues at ITV's digital channels are increasing; the broadcaster reported that in the first half of the year, those revenues were up 42%.

Today's statement also included cost-cutting plans, as ITV reported an overall slump in advertising revenues for the first half of the year. Through "business re-engineering and operational reviews," the broadcaster said it will make an additional 100m saving through to the end of 2008, partially through a 30m reduction in the budget of ITV Sport. More money will also be returned to shareholders, to the tune of an extra 300m compared to original plans.

"Since the merger ITV has increased its profitability, delivered ahead of all its targets, raised 400 million from the disposal of non-core assets and will have paid 1.1 billion to shareholders in dividends and share buy backs by the end of 2006," said ITV CEO Charles Allen. "We continue to set ourselves aggressive targets. ITV with its strong brand, original content, Freeview capacity and cross promotional capability is uniquely well-positioned to benefit as the UK television market continues to fragment and the number of outlets and demand for high quality content continues to increase. We have a renewed focus, a clear strategy and the right management team that will enable us to deliver increasing value to our viewers, advertisers and shareholders."