ITV has been hit hard by the credit crunch, revealing accumulative losses of over £2.8 billion in the past sixteen months. And now, as the deal to sell Friends Reunited is finalised -- for £145 million less than they paid for it -- we wonder what's next for the channel's chopping block?
Drama production has already been scaled back, following announced annual losses in 2008 of £2.7 billion earlier this year, meaning that prime-time shows such as Primeval and Demons have been axed, along with hundreds of jobs.
Production of police drama The Bill has also been cut, with the show now airing once, rather than twice, weekly. Meanwhile, filming on Heartbeat and The Royal has been halted while the channel airs new episodes from a pre-recorded back-catalogue.
The cuts in programme production don't just extend to ITV shows either. Earlier this month The Street's creator Jimmy McGoven decided to cancel the award-winning BBC show after staff at ITV Studios, where the show is filmed, were sacked by ITV as part of its cost-cutting measures.
Friends Reunited is the latest casualty and was today sold to DC Thomson, the Dundee-based publisher of the Beano comics, for a mere £25 million -- ITV bought the business four years ago for 120 million pounds.
The deal comes following quarterly losses of £105 million for ITV, which lost £1.5 million in the same period last year. The huge decline is blamed on falling advertising revenues as a direct result of the recession. The lack of television advertising was also blamed for the 2008 annual loss, revealed in March.
It's not all bad for ITV viewers, however; the broadcaster has renewed popular American drama Gossip Girl for a second series and picked up CW's vampire series The Vampire Diaries, both of which will air next year.
Wild at Heart also returns in 2010 as will spin-off drama Law and Order: UK, which ITV's director of drama Laura Mackie said at the time: "demonstrates our commitment to series that have concepts and storylines that can run long term."
Shows that aren't deemed worthy are axed, such as Primeval and Demons, and our prediction is that there's more to come -- the channel hopes to deliver savings from its programme budgets of £155 million this year, and £285 million by 2011.