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ITV 'could dump' Friends Reunited

Unfashionably profitable social network on the block

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ITV is reportedly considering selling off Friends Reunited, the social networking site it paid £175m for in 2006. It's unlikely a sale now would achieve even half that.

The broadcaster is implementing a series of cost-cutting measures as it attempts to shore up its struggling TV business and cope with massive debt and pension liabilities.

In the six months to June 2008, Friends Reunited revenues were £10m, down £1m on the same period a year earlier. ITV didn't release figures on what profit was made or loss sustained.

When ITV bought the pioneering site it was already being rapidly caught and overtaken in user numbers by newer, fuller featured, free access sites such as Facebook and Bebo.

By charging users, though, Friends Reunited unlike the web 2.0 upstarts has made profits in past years. However, ITV dropped subscription fees last year, fearing Friends Reunited would become irrelevant as venture-funded rivals gave away limitless free storage and bandwidth in order to sell adverts at pathetically low rates.

More news on the future of the site is expected when ITV delivers annual results on 4 March. ®

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