ITV reports profit boost days after revealing plan to cut regional news provision

ITV’s profit for the first half of 2013 grew by 16 per cent to £270 million.

The broadcaster posted its improved financial performance today, less than a week after it announced cuts to its regional news output because of “significant economic pressure”.

Total revenue was 2 per cent up compared to the same period last year, standing at £1.3 billion but advertising revenue was slightly down year-on-year to £741 million.

The profit increase was driven by an 11 per cent increase in non-advertising income, which grew from £514 million to £568 million. ITV’s non-advertising revenue comes from its pay, online and interactive services and its ITV Studios production company.

The company is still accounting for a £20 million cost saving across the year to “fund investments in the creative development pipeline, technology and online”.

However, it is set to cut back on its regional news arm following a licence agreement with broadcasting watchdog Ofcom allowed it to reduce the number of news minutes in most of its regions.

From 2015, the broadcaster’s half-hour early evening news programmes will feature only 20 minutes of local news in all its English regions besides London and Granada, in the North West. In addition, it will cut its shorter lunchtime, late evening and weekend news slots.

ITV claimed in its submission to Ofcom that it was not “economically rational to place advertising in prime-time regional news programming, with the value of its licence having reduced in recent years" .

However, the National Union of Journalists and broadcast union Bectu have criticised the plans, claiming they will be “a blow to public service broadcasting”.

Speaking about the half-year results, ITV chief executive Adam Crozier said: “We're making good progress with our strategy of growing and rebalancing the business as we build new revenue streams and improve margins.” 

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