PROFITABILITY AT LAST FOR GRANADA NICHE
Granada’s three GSB channels, co-owned with BSkyB, moved into profit during the six months ending March 31. The three channels, Granada Breeze, Men & Motors, and Granada Plus, increased revenue by 24 per cent in the first half, said Granada. The statement, part of the ITV company’s financial report, follows recent suggestions that Breeze was under threat of closure. However, overall, the group lost GBP71 million (E116m) overall in the first half, largely attributable to a loss of GBP83 million in its digital media operations.
Ad bookings across the ITV network for July are down 20-25 per cent on last year, and this is also understood to be affecting the niche channels owned by Granada and ITV stablemate Carlton Communications. Losses in Carlton’s share of the ITV2 channel are also up, and a report from investment bankers Merrill Lynch says “the sheer size” of additional losses expected on the ITV Sport Channel ( GBP75 million in 2002) makes Carlton’s position volatile.
ONdigital has already been a huge cash-drain on Carlton and Granada, with analysts predicting its support will cost the pair close on $1 billion over the next two years or so. ONdigital is scheduled to be more closely integrated with the rest of the ITV network this autumn, and re-branded as ITV Digital.