Commercial broadcaster ITV has announced a pre-tax loss of £2.73 billion as the recession bites into advertising revenues. Michael Grade, the corporation’s chief executive also announced this morning that it is revising its online strategy with the sale of the Friends Reunited and Scoot brands, while ITV Local will be closed down.

 ITV will be making 600 people redundant across the business, and over 70 posts that currently have no staff will not be filled. The broadcaster will be closing its ITV Local search business down, and as has been widely expected, will be putting the Friends Reunited social network and Scoot portal onto the market.

Talking on BBC Radio 4 this morning Grade said, “There is no question that we were late into the internet market. ITV.com is now the fifth most popular site in the UK.” Grade said its ITV.com business is on an upward trajectory driven by its on-demand video service for watching ITV shows. ITV was hit by a regulatory blow recently when the Competition Commission put a stop to the Kangaroo project to jointly offer a video on-demand service between ITV, Channel 4 and the BBC.

Operating profits at ITV were £211 million, down a million from 2007. ITV will not deliver dividend to its shareholders it announced to the London Stock Exchange this morning. Revenue targets set for 2012 are now deemed “no longer appropriate” and have been scrapped.

Efficiency targets have been increased though with savings £155m to be achieved this year, £175m next year and £245m in 2011. These savings will come from the existing turnaround strategy, savings from programming nationally and regionally.

“I am just starting a new restructuring programme to re-orientate the technology division, so that we can outsource some of the more ‘commodity’ services and be more innovative,” Richard Cross, group technology director of ITV told CIO UK. “I want this to be a business change group.”

Cross has radically reformed IT at ITV, reducing the amount of bespoke broadcast technology and replacing it with off-the-shelf technology which has significant savings for the company.