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Last Updated: Thursday, 9 September, 2004, 09:24 GMT 10:24 UK
ITV boosted by ad revenue growth
Charles Allen, ITV chief executive
Charles Allen says the merger has gone well
Advertising revenues at UK broadcaster ITV grew at their fastest rate since 2000 during the first six months of this year, the group has said.

Ad revenues from all ITV channels grew by 4.9%, ITV said, as it reported its first results since the merger between Granada and Carlton.

Half-year pre-tax profit before goodwill write-offs was 132m ($235m).

Chief executive Charles Allen said the merger was a success and that cost-cutting plans were ahead of schedule.

"We are driving real growth, restructuring ITV, achieving our cost saving targets six months early and increasing our cost saving target for the future," Mr Allen said.

The firm now expects to make post-merger cost savings of 120m, compared with previous estimates of 100m.

Healthy growth

The merger between Carlton and Granada earlier this year brought together all of the former regional ITV firms, with the exception of Scottish, Grampian and Ulster.

ITV plc's share of advertising revenues across the ITV channels grew by 4% in the first six months of the year, the group said

It added that its share of advertising revenues in the quarter to September is estimated to have grown by 5.2%.

Flagship channel ITV1 managed a peaktime share of 31.5%, down 0.4% year-on-year due to the increase of digital channels.

Asset sales

In an interview with Reuters, Mr Allen said that ITV was considering selling some of its assets including its stakes in France's Thomson and Australia's Village Roadshow.

Other items which could be sold include the firm's stakes in Liverpool and Arsenal football clubs, Carlton Screen Advertising and Granada Learning.

However, Mr Allen ruled out any sale of ITV's stakes in media firm SMG, ITN news or Ireland's TV3 channel.

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