Broadcasters have been largely guarded about the impact of Brexit, but its most obvious result is to make ITV a more attractive takeover target.
Around £2.5bn – a fifth – has been knocked off the commercial broadcaster’s stock market value since Friday, with a high volume of shares changing hands.
Chief executive Adam Crozier quickly reassured staff, saying that ITV’s strategy “remained unchanged”, but City analysts suggested the tumbling share price could lead to a takeover.
“This increases the chance of a bid by one of the major US media companies where there is a historical and present interest in the UK,” noted Ian Whittaker, an analyst at Liberum.
Zodiak Media UK chief executive Rod Henwood warned that the collapse of ITV’s share price could hit programming budgets. “Every ad-reliant broadcaster in the UK will face a shock in the short term and that may play through to programming budgets,” he said.
A declining ad market would also hit Channel 5. But David Lynn, UK managing director of C5 owner Viacom, said the company was used to responding to “changing market conditions”.
“We are used to adapting our business to new political and economic realities. The UK is Viacom’s most important and valuable international market and we are fully committed to continuing to invest to grow our business locally,” he said.
Channel 4 is prepared for the “complex and uncharted” implications of Brexit, according to chief executive David Abraham.
He said the implications of the UK exiting the EU had already been considered by the executive board and the business was “as well placed as can be to respond to any possible market impacts”.
US broadcaster Discovery Communications, which operates channels in the UK, said it was accustomed to operating in an industry where “change is constant”.
“We will work closely with UK and EU leaders to successfully navigate this change and find new opportunities to shape our future,” it noted.