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ITV hopes for ratings boost as it reaches 60th birthday

By Lorna Cooper

Britain's biggest commercial broadcaster celebrates its 60th birthday with hope of a ratings boost from the Rugby World Cup and a live episode of Coronation Street.

There is reason for optimism due to a rise in profits, but falling ratings will concern the advertiser-dependent company.

ITV launched on Thursday, September 22, 1955 initially in London only. But by 1962 ITV was broadcasting nationwide.

The fledgling broadcaster's populist fare, with variety specials, big money quiz shows and its soap Coronation Street - which premiered in 1960 - helped the channel grab its share of audience from the BBC.

Over the years, ITV has maintained its status as a channel with huge audiences thanks to successful series including Upstairs, Downstairs and The Sweeney in the 1970s; Minder and The Bill in the 1980s; Cold Feet and Taggart in the 1990s and into the new century with must-see light entertainment shows from Ant and Dec, Simon Cowell and acclaimed dramas such as Downton Abbey.

However, this year, ITV has experienced a 5% drop in viewing share as some key new series - including recently axed Harry Hill's Stars In Their Eyes and Stephen Mulhern talent show Get Your Act Together - flopped, while stalwarts The X Factor and Coronation Street have lost audience.

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