ITV to embrace future

After agreeing to sell social website Friends Reunited, ITV are now looking at new business opportunities, such as the Big Brother franchise, in order to counter their first-half pretax loss of £105m.

Chairman Michael Grade yesterday announced the plan to acquire the Big Brother franchise after the next series: “We’ve seen recently that reality television has been very successful and is definitely something ITV should be buying into for the future. Big Brother has been extremely popular over the past few years and would benefit from the move to a more mainstream audience.”

ITV lost £95m on Friends Reunited and are keen not to repeat such a mistake again: “When we purchased that website in 2005 it had a proven track record. Then suddenly someone went and invented Facebook the day after and made us look like idiots,” said Grade. “But lightning doesn’t strike twice, and though we backed the wrong horse on that occasion we’re confident this time around that Big Brother will go a long way towards countering the losses we made. It’s a proven performer which has been successful for many years, and the decision in the end was a no-brainer.”

Grade also announced plans to buy the Logix DVD corporation: “We’ve seen recently in the last decade or so that many people are discarding their old VHS video recorders and moving into the DVD age. Logix have been quick to take advantage of this opportunity and have manufactured millions of these so-called “DVD Players” – which come with an introduction pack that includes 50 films – all for just £99 per unit. We believe that, in partnership with Logix, we are in a prime position to capitalize on this lucrative market.”

ITV are also looking to bolster their business portfolio further with plans to acquire BT Cellnet at some point in the next 12 months – a move that Grade believes will provide massive financial returns: “The rising popularity of ‘texting’ amongst young people is something which hasn’t escaped our notice. We’re keen to grab a slice of this action and BT Cellnet have produced, in conjunction with Phillips, a mobile handset that not only makes and receives phone calls on the move, but also has a display whereby the user can create and send text messages to their friends. We’re confident that we are in a position where we can now move forward and take full advantage of this opening in the market.”

Employees of the station were yesterday said to be “anxious.”

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