ITV executive chairman Michael Grade has described the current advertising downturn as the worst he has ever experienced.

Grade told the House of Lords communications committee that commercial broadcasters were being “severely challenged” by the recession, which he said was significantly worse than he had seen before.

He said: “I have seen cycles come and go over the years, but I have never seen anything quite so dramatic or profound in its effect on advertising.”

But he added: “We will survive and we will be in a fitter state when the economy recovers.”

Grade also told the peers that ITV was committed to national news but would need support to continue with regional news coverage.

“We will want to continue to provide the ITN service as a business priority for us,” he told peers, but on regional news he said: “The money will have to come from somewhere to pay for it. We cannot afford to do that.”