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500 jobs could go if ITV sells Friends Reunited

Ian Grant

Five hundred jobs could go if ITV succeeds in selling off social networking site Friends Reunited and other digital assets to shore up its balance sheet, boost cash flow and cut costs.

The broadcaster paid £175m for Friends Reunited just over two years ago to increases its online footprint. But Friends Reunited's revenues for the past six months have slipped from £11m to £10m as it lost market share to newer competitors like Bebo and Facebook. Revenues from ITV.com, ITVlocal.com and mobile rose from £5m to £7m.

ITV faces an accelerating slump in TV advertising, say market analysts and communications regulator Ofcom.

Analysts have questioned ITV's ability to cover a £225m hole in its pension fund. It has debt approaching £750m and advertising revenue is expected to drop 12% this year following an estimated 9% slide last year, said the Financial Times.

The company will report its annual results on 4 March.

Interview with ITV CIO Richard Cross >>


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