ITV axes shows, cuts staff

By David Knox on March 5, 2009 / Filed Under News 21

wire specialsITV is preparing to slash prime-time drama, cut stars’ salaries, show more repeats and axe 600 jobs in the biggest wave of cutbacks in the channel’s history.

Executive chairman Michael Grade blamed the ‘short-term horrors’ of the economic downturn for the company’s worst-ever annual results. ITV posted pre-tax losses of £2.73billion. The equivalent of $300 million AU will be slashed from the programming budget by 2011 in the biggest cuts in the broadcaster’s 54-year history.

Amongst confirmed casualties, there will be no new episodes of popular crime drama Wire in the Blood, starring Robson Green. Detective drama A Touch of Frost will finish when star David Jason retires this year.

Police series Heartbeat and its hospital spin-off The Royal will not be re-commissioned.

The Bill has been cut from two episodes a week to one in the UK and moved to a later time slot.

Stalwart soaps Coronation Street and Emmerdale which pay their way are likely to survive but will see their budgets shrink and actors paid less.

ITV says it will instead focus on its “light” programs such as X-Factor, Britain’s Got Talent and I’m a Celebrity.

But the broadcaster will struggle to meet X Factor star Simon Cowell’s current £20million deal when it expires in December. Presenters Ant and Dec have also hinted they may not sign up for an exclusive deal with ITV again when their contract runs out this year.

Source: Courier Mail, Daily Mail

21 Comments »

  1. kev March 6, 2009 at 12:59 pm -

    this is more than likely to happen to 9 in the coming months. and 7 and 10 to a lesser extent. we can probably assume that the sydney 5:30 mag show has been cancelled. the Melbourne one is having more doubts every day. There are now rumous that claudia Karvans spirt has been cancelled or shelved. The footy shows and getaway could very well have big cuts. and we all know about the cuts from 60 minutes.

  2. Anthony Swan March 6, 2009 at 11:31 am -

    The decision about the Bill was made in January this year.

  3. PT Ryan March 6, 2009 at 9:33 am -

    Ah Michael Grade, still putting bullets into long-running shows after all these years…

  4. fizzin March 6, 2009 at 8:52 am -

    Interesting that, the industry rumour mill has Billie Piper signed up for a new series for ITV in which she plays the part of a single mum, ah me, life goes on in big time telly

  5. Scooter March 6, 2009 at 8:28 am -

    Coronation Street is still going strong…Even here in Australia (on Austar & Foxtel). Its a shame those other shows are going. It wil be back to reading books at night and thats not such a bad thing lol…

  6. pietro March 6, 2009 at 7:49 am -

    Coronation St in the main is brilliantly written and one of the funniest shows around.

  7. John Waller March 6, 2009 at 6:46 am -

    “The Bill has jumped the shark and unlikely to be able to be ever taken seriously again.”

    Utter nonsense. The Bill still has a strong and loyal following after 20+ years on TV (me included).

    The Bill is improving as time goes by. The ‘soapie’ years are behind us (thank goodness) and the scripts and storylines are as sharp and topical as ever.

    ITV’s move in cutting it back is a mistake.

  8. Barrie March 6, 2009 at 12:46 am -

    Jack, Leave Coronation St alone – its not past its use by date. Only someone who doesn’t watch it would say that. The Bill has jumped the shark and unlikely to be able to be ever taken seriously again. As for Heartbeat well the 60’s only lasted a decade and this show has run for nearly 20 years.

  9. lab_brat March 5, 2009 at 11:39 pm -

    “ITV says it will instead focus on its “light” programs such as X-Factor, Britain’s Got Talent and I’m a Celebrity.”

    Perhaps instead of looking for talent on Britains Got Talent and X-Factor etc they could just not axe the talent they already have.

  10. David Knox March 5, 2009 at 11:00 pm -

    We should still be getting more Heartbeat given they filmed some eps in Oz.

  11. Kuttsywood March 5, 2009 at 10:34 pm -

    Forwarded this article on to a Aussie ex-pat friend in Scotland, who has recently been reporting on the ITV/4/Five troubles on their blog. They will be interested, but it is a sad loss, especially Heartbeat, as it had a decent run in Australia on commercial screens.

  12. Jezza of the city March 5, 2009 at 9:51 pm -

    At this rate 7,9 & 10 will have to merge to survive.
    ABC and SBS will also have to merge.

    We will be left with 2 FTA channels and loadsa stuff on the internet.

  13. David Knox March 5, 2009 at 9:50 pm -

    Yes he does. I spoke to him last year about producing his own work. I would say there is still the possibility of more with this one, with either a new network or international sales. Fingers crossed.

  14. rico March 5, 2009 at 9:46 pm -

    Interesting about Wire in the Blood- i thought Robson Green’s production company produced it? Obviously ITV had a big enough stake though.

  15. Jack March 5, 2009 at 9:39 pm -

    Cutting The Bill to an hour a week is a mistake.

    And Coronation Street should have been axed its well past its sell by date.

  16. GuanoLad March 5, 2009 at 8:56 pm -

    2009 is not shaping up to be a very pleasant experience for the world.

  17. Brodie March 5, 2009 at 8:51 pm -

    Wow, sounds exactly like channel nine here. Dropping scripted drama in favour of cheap reality shit.

  18. ali March 5, 2009 at 8:49 pm -

    No great losses. Its sad that networks are ‘falling back’ to reality programs.

  19. Matt March 5, 2009 at 7:02 pm -

    No! Heartbeat is the best show!

  20. retter2critical March 5, 2009 at 6:51 pm -

    Jeez. I can understand merger talks then. Job losses here at Ten and Fairfax, this is looking shaky for the commercial media sector.

  21. avoidz March 5, 2009 at 6:23 pm -

    Unbelievable.

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