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British broadcaster ITV sells Friends Reunited

British broadcaster ITV sells Friends Reunited

London: ITV on Thursday said that it had agreed to sell social website Friends Reunited after Britain’s biggest commercial television broadcaster posted a first-half pretax loss of £105 million.

ITV is selling the website, which has been eclipsed by more popular rivals Facebook, MySpace and Twitter, to IT group Brightsolid Limited — owned by British publisher D.C. Thomson — for £25 million in cash, subject to regulatory approvals.

The broadcaster had bought the website in 2005 for £120 million ($204 million).

Meanwhile ITV’s first-half pretax loss was much reduced compared with the first six months of 2008 when ITV had made a loss of £1.537 billion after writing down the value of assets.

“Our financial results for the half year reflect the impact of the unprecedented downturn in television advertising," ITV executive chairman Michael Grade said in the group’s earnings statement.

“The rate of market decline has eased slightly in the second half and ITV continues to outperform the market," he added. ITV in April announced that Grade was to step down before the end of 2009.

Grade on Thursday said that ITV’s cost-cutting plans, including 600 job losses to achieve annual savings of £245 million by 2011, helped to reduce first-half losses.

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