Success of studio arm sees ITV beat off flat advertising market

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BROADCASTER ITV posted higher profits as the resurgence of its studios business helped overcome a flat advertising market.

In the third year of a five-year turnaround plan, chief executive Adam Crozier said ITV is becoming a “stronger and more balanced business”, with more than £1bn in non-advertising revenues last year.

Much of this has come from its production arm, which grew revenues by £100m to £712m last year following the success of programmes such as Titanic and Vera for ITV and Shetland for the BBC.

Across the business, revenues rose three per cent to £2.2bn in 2012 with adjusted profits ahead 17 per cent to £464m.

The company said it would pay a special dividend worth £156m to shareholders.

“We want to reward all our shareholders equally and to reward shareholders who are staying with us as we grow,” said Mr Crozier.

During 2012, ITV said it broadcast the highest-rating drama in Downton Abbey, the most-watched soap in Coronation Street and the highest-rating entertainment show in Britain’s Got Talent.

Its broadcast and online division grew revenues by one per cent to £1.8bn last year, with a flat advertising performance slightly ahead of the rest of the market.

ITV’s share of viewing was down three per cent during a year in which events such as the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the London Olympics were largely broadcast on the BBC.

Mr Crozier said: “Historically, the financial performance of ITV has been largely dependent on the advertising market.

“Whilst still incredibly important, these results demonstrate that ITV can deliver strong profit growth even in a flat advertising market.”

ITV said it had made a strong start to the new year, with net advertising revenues up five per cent in the first quarter following an eight per cent rise in January.