ITV has announced that around 600 jobs will be cut across its business after reporting a £2.7bn loss that included a huge write-down of its assets.
ITV’s executive chairman Michael Grade said: “Current conditions in the advertising market are the most challenging I have experienced in over 30 years in UK broadcasting.”
One-quarter of the jobs will go in Leeds, with the closure of the studio that makes programmes including Heartbeat and The Royal.
ITV will also sell its online businesses Friends Reunited and Scoot. ITV bought Friends Reunited in 2005 but the site’s success has been dwarfed by social networking sites such as Facebook and Bebo.
Bectu, the media and entertainment union, condemned the decision to mothball its studios in Leeds as the act of a management which has “seriously lost its way.”
When the merged ITV was launched in 2003, the combined staff was 8,000. Bectu said the company is looking to continue operations with half that number of staff.
ITV will also start consultation with staff and trustees over possible changes to its defined benefit pension fund, which has an estimated £178m deficit.
The jobs are in addition to job cuts announced in the autumn.