ITV cheers profits surge on ad rebound

Steve Dinneen
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ITV chief executive Adam Crozier was yesterday riding the crest of the advertising wave as his firm trebled its pre-tax profits to £321m.

TV ad revenues buoyed by hit shows including Simon Cowell’s X-Factor, soared 16 per cent and the firm is on track to beat analyst expectations for the first-quarter of 2011.

But behind the well-deserved back-slapping at the broadcaster lie signs of hard work to come. Its share of commercial impact – the number of eyes watching at any given time – continued its decline, falling from 28.4 per cent in 2009 to 27.3 per cent last year, raising questions about how well it would fare in a second downturn. It also saw a steep fall in profits at its struggling studio division.

ITV chief executive Adam Crozier said: “The comparatives we face are becoming increasingly tough.”

The figures were still enough to convince ITV it can reinstate its dividend payment at its interim results in July.

Total revenues rose 10 per cent to £2.06bn, while ITV’s broadcasting and online revenues grew 14.7 per cent to £1.77bn. Revenues at its programme making division fell 12.5 per cent to £293m.

ITV says it has identified an extra £15m of “non-personnel” cost savings, after stripping out £40m of expenditure last year. Its net debt has reduced from £612m to £188m and its pension deficit fell from £436m to £313m.