ITV in profit as worst over

Steve Dinneen
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ITV bosses were straight-faced yesterday despite the beleaguered station swinging back to profit last year.

It crept back into the black with a £25m profit, reversing a bumper £2.7bn loss in 2008. But new chairman Archie Norman says the figures should not be measured against last year, which was spectacularly bad for the entire industry. He said years of tough choices were ahead of the UK’s leading commercial free-to-air broadcaster.

Total revenues at the station were slightly down at £1.88bn after posting £2.03bn the year before.

Deep cuts at the company saved it nearly £170m and it pledged to continue these in 2010.

Norman said: “My interest is in building a great business for the future rather than discussing how we got to the position we are in. Immediate change is no change. The right decisions are three to five year decisions.

“Our growth may look encouraging but it is not growth at all on a two year basis – it is important to remember we are coming off the back of big losses. We still face formidable obstacles. Free-to-air revenues have been static or declining. But I think ITV will still be a market leader in free-to-air in ten years’ time.”

Norman added ITV would look at alternative funding options like subscription services in the future but said no suitable products or programmes existed to make immediate changes. He also said cuts at the BBC were unlikely to benefit ITV.