ITV, Britain's biggest free-to-air commercial broadcaster, said Covid-19 had sent its advertising revenue down 42% last month, and an uncertain outlook meant it could not give guidance for the rest of the year. 

The group paused the majority of its studio productions in mid-March and has temporarily laid off around 800 workers.

It said today it had identified another £30m of savings on top of action it was already taking, including a £100m cut in the programme budget. 

Chief executive Carolyn McCall said ITV had taken swift and decisive action to manage and mitigate the impact of Covid-19, both on its people and its finances. 

"We are now very focused on emerging from this crisis in a strong position, continuing to offer advertisers effective marketing opportunities and making preparations to restart productions safely," she said. 

The broadcaster had already cut executive pay and cancelled its 2019 final dividend to help preserve cash. 

Analysts at Citi said the drop in April advertising revenue was less severe than the 50% they had expected. 

"With an absence of any major negatives and the severity of the share price move versus peers this year, we see these results as positive," they said. 

Citi forecasts ITV's advertising revenue for the year will fall 19%. 

ITV said it was working with others across the industry on measure that would allow productions to restart. 

It had to halt filming on its popular soap operas "Coronation Street" and "Emmerdale" in March, and earlier this week pulled this summer's run of "Love Island", the standout success for its ITV 2 channel. 

Total external revenue for the three months to 31 March fell 7% to £694m, it said, as it was hit by working restrictions at ITV Studios caused by the crisis.