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Earnings: Ailing ITV Merging Online/TV Units; Henry Out; Web Ads Slowing

imageITV (LSE: ITV) is folding its online unit in to its broadcast operations as it struggles to meet optimistic web targets made harder by the economic downturn. Jeff Henry, the MD of the consumer unit who set the goal of making £150 million from online by 2010, is leaving the company in the restructure, which effectively extends director of television Peter Fincham’s role to include online. Consumer unit COO Ben McOwen Wilson will also become a dedicated online director, however.

Engineered in ITV’s turnaround plan last year, the target for making £150 million a year from online by 2010 always looked ambitious (it’s already been postponed by two years). Though the target pre-dates recent financial turmoil, ITV is now able to pin the slow progress on the economic downturn…

Reporting earnings today, ITV said it made £25 million from online in the nine months to September 30 – that’s just £1 million more than that period a year ago. Its outlook for the full year now expects online to be “impacted by the advertising slowdown, with profitability further impacted by investment in Kangaroo”.

The restructure points to a desire for more cross-selling of advertising. ITV executive chairman Michael Grade had some fighting talk in the release: