ITV may grow its struggling studios division through acquisitions, according to its chief executive Adam Crozier.
The broadcaster is desperate to strengthen the division to provide a revenue stream that is less volatile than advertising income.
A bounce-back in the ad market trebled ITV’s pre-tax profits to £321m last year.
However, it saw a steep fall in profits at its studio division, which slid 11 per cent to £81m, with revenues dropping 12.5 per cent to £293m.
This has led analysts to question how susceptible ITV may be to a second economic downturn. Crozier sees a bolstered studios division as a key growth area, allowing ITV to export programming abroad and cushion against a drop in advertising.
A number of high profile independent production firms have been mooted as possible targets, although sources close to ITV have distanced themselves from any imminent bids.
A glut of ITV executives have left the firm to start production companies and these firms top the list of likely acquisitions. These include:
• Mammoth Screen, the firm run by former ITV executives Michele Buck and Damien Timmer, which produces shows including Wuthering Heights.
• Left Bank Pictures, set up by ITV-man Andy Harries, which produces Wallander.
• All3Media, the so-called “super-indie” behind shows such as Midsomer Murders, which is run by former ITV bosses including Steve Morrison, David Liddiment, Jules Burns and Wayne Garvie.
• Gallowgate, the Ant and Dec production vehicle with strong ties to ITV.
• RTL-owned TalkbackThames, the production arm of X-Factor maker Freemantle, although it is questionable whether ITV could afford it.