ITV seems likely to pass on the pain of declining advertising revenues to cable television providers amidst reports that it is to hit Virgin Media with a large bill in order for it to carry its main ITV channel, with the implicit threat that the channel could be taken off air if Virgin refuses to pay up.
The broadcaster is predicted to make its move next week once an existing copyright exemption law granting Virgin Media the right to carry its public service channel for free expires, dovetailed with a planned renegotiation of a pre-existing deal for ITV2.
Virgin Media (and its parent Liberty Global) are unlikely to take any such demand lying down however, presaging a probable battle of nerves between the two over the right to freely host channels which will continue to be offered to Freeview and satellite providers free of charge.
ITV has been forced to act in a bid to repair its tattered balance sheet which has been shredded by a sharp 8% decline in advertising which has already contributed to a 16% drop in profits in the first half of the year.
The commercial broadcaster is betting on the arrival of easyJet’s Carolyn McCall as chief executive, responsible for bringing the airlines sky high costs back down to Earth, to work her magic on their own performance.