ITV has gone on the offensive over its flagging audience share and the downturn in advertising spend with a new package of measures, including dedicated nights for the young and affluent.

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ITV has gone on the offensive over its flagging audience share and the downturn in advertising spend with a new package of measures, including dedicated nights for the young and affluent.

The nights, which will be targeted at the 16 to 34 year-olds and the ABC1 demographic group, will begin in the autumn as part of a wider strategy which also sees the rebranding of ITV as ITV1.

ITV has not decided on which nights the new focused schedules will play but they will not affect the scheduling of programmes such as Coronation Street, Emmerdale or ITV's newcasts.

The strategy has been instigated to combat the rising number of younger viewers defecting from terrestrial TV. It apes a move by BBC 1 controller Lorraine Heggessey, who recently refocused the channel's Sunday nights as 'testosterone nights' targeting the younger viewers.

The 16 to 34 night is expected to include Pearson TV's much-vaunted Popstars follow-up, Pop Idol, in which young hopefuls audition to become a solo pop star. The next series of Granada's comedy drama Cold Feet is likely to feature along with shows such as The Frank Skinner Show and the forthcoming Baby Cow/Avalon-produced Sketch Show, (pictured). ITV has also acquired Grounded For Life, a new US comedy show from Carsey Werner.

ITV director of channels David Liddiment, who is taking charge of both nights, said he hoped to create 'a more consistent scheduling approach'.

'Cold Feet and The Frank Skinner Show have already shown the way. They will be joined by new shows developed with this scheduling strategy in mind,' he said.

For the 'upmarket' night, the schedule is expected to include one-off dramas such as Yorkshire TV's Uncle Silas and Carlton's Anybody's Nightmare with Patricia Routledge. Drama series are also expected to feature heavily, with two new detective dramas Rebus and The Last Detective already on the slate along with new series of Midsomer Murders and Without Motive.

Liddiment said: 'We will take a similar approach with our upmarket viewers, building on the growth we have seen this year in ABC 1 audiences. Consistency is the key.'

The plans were unveiled as part of ITV's pitch to advertisers this week.

The network has had a rough ride financially with some advertisers withdrawing support from the channel.

Recent figures from media buying firms suggest the downturn in advertising expenditure has cost ITV£175m.

The rebranding of ITV as ITV1 is the latest part of ITV's digital strategy which sees On Digital's TV internet service ONnet rebranded as ITV Active.

On Digital is set to be rebranded as ITV Digital on 11 July.

ITV Active promises to bring a raft of new services online including enhanced Tennis Masters and football, plus ring tone downloads. ITV Active is partnering with Nokia's next generation home personal video recorder (PVR), the Nokia Media Terminal, which is set to launch later this year to rival Sky's next- generation set-top box, Sky+.