ITV warns of an uncertain time ahead

David Hellier
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ITV, the commercial broadcasting group, has warned investors that the outlook for the second half of the year – post the election – was “highly uncertain” after disclosing that revenues for the first half were up by a healthy six per cent.

The group, which is now headed by former Post Office chief Adam Crozier, said advertising revenues were up eight per cent in the first quarter and were currently forecast to be up 22 per cent in the second quarter.

But the group, which had its shareholders’ meeting yesterday, said that this year’s growth had to be seen in the context of a very difficult period last year.

ITV said also that the upcoming World Cup in south Africa was having a positive effect on first half revenues.

ITV’s new chief Crozier said: “ITV’s financial performance over the first quarter reflects growth in UK television advertising following last year’s record declines.

“Over two years, revenues are still tracking below 2008 levels. The outlook for the latter part of 2010 and early 2011 is tough with more testing year-on-year comparators and uncertain market conditions post-election.

“Given also the long-term challenges facing the free-to-air market, change remains an imperative at ITV and we are focused on driving the transformation of the business over the next 3-5 years.

TV revenues were up six per cent to £450m, while broadcasting and online revenues rose to six per cent to £390m. ITV Studios saw external revenues – commissions from other broadcasters – rise seven per cent year-on-year to £60m.

Despite ITV’s caution, Numis is raising its profits forecasts to £250m for 2010 and to £325m for 2011 and is remaining positive on the stock.