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ITV drops dramas, jobs

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ITV is axing 600 jobs and slashing a number of its prime-time dramas following losses of 2.73 billion pounds. Drama output will be cut from eight hours a week to seven, with ITV already set to scale back production of Heartbeat and The Royal.

Michael Grade, ITV's executive chairman, announced the losses yesterday, admitting that ITV needed "tough action" following their recent financial downfall.

The company, which is slashing 65 million pounds from its programming budget, blame its unprecedented loss on plummeting advertising revenue with Grade describing the current advertising market as: "the most challenging I have experienced in over 30 years in UK broadcasting."

ITV yesterday outlined plans to save 155 million pounds next year and a further 245 million pounds in 2011 through a variety of cost-cutting measures including programme and staff cutbacks.

Prime-time cop show The Bill is expected to be cut from two shows a week to one and there are also suggestions that Fern Britton and Phillip Schofield's breakfast show This Morning is also under threat, with some suggesting it might cease production entirely during the leanest summer months.

Around 13 percent of ITV's jobs will also be cut, with a large number being made at ITV's 40-year-old Yorkshire Television studios in Leeds, which is scheduled for closure--though these losses may be dwarfed by proposed cutbacks in London. Programmes produced there, such as Countdown, are reportedly moving to the broadcaster's Manchester studio.

ITV aims to rely on entertainment programming such as The X Factor and peak-time dramas such as Law and Order: UK to draw in audience figures and revenue.

The future outlook looks bleak however as today ITV's share prices hit an all time low and its broadcasting competitor Five also announced staff cutbacks.

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