ITV almost triples profits as ad revenue roars back

ITV reported that pre-tax profits at the broadcasting giant almost tripled last year thanks to strong growth in television advertising around hit shows like X Factor.

The broadcaster said this morning that underlying pre-tax profits rose to £321m for 2010 – up from £108 million in 2009 – as total revenue increased ten per cent year on year to £2.06bn.

Reporting full year results, ITV said its resurgence came on the back of ad revenue increasing 16 per cent year on year in 2010 to £1.5bn – outpacing the general recovery in the television ad market by one per cent, the broadcaster said.

The strength of the businesses recovery allowed it to reduce debt to £188m last year from the £612m debt of the previous year and for the ITV board to indicate that it would restore payment of a dividend from July this year.

Despite the strong ad growth, the general improvement in fortunes and the success of in-house production Downton Abbey, ITV said profits from its ITV Studios business declined by £10m to £81m last year.

ITV said advertising revenue is expected to be up 12 per cent in the first three months of 2011.

Adam Crozier, chief executive of ITV, said: “Last year we set out a comprehensive five year plan for the transformation of ITV.

“In this first phase, our out performance of the television advertising market – together with the actions taken to reduce the group’s cost base and the focus on cash generation – has delivered substantial debt reduction and a sound financial platform for the challenges ahead.

“But whilst the recovery in television advertising is clearly very helpful, it also serves to remind us just how volatile this market can be.

“That is why we remain fully focussed on delivering our five year transformation plan to ensure that we have a more balanced and robust business going forward.

“Our objective is to continue to outperform the TV advertising market, to invest in technology and our online capability, as well as our content business through the creative renewal of ITV Studios.

“We remain committed to our strategy of creating great content, delivering and exploiting it across multiple platforms and selling it internationally.

“We’re still in the first phase of our transformation and making good progress, with a real momentum for change being built up within ITV.

“We have a new, talented top team in place and around a third of the wider leadership team has changed over the last few months.

“The organisation is becoming leaner and a further £15m of overhead and cost reduction is expected to be delivered this year.”

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