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Last Updated: Wednesday, 9 August 2006, 11:04 GMT 12:04 UK
ITV profits rise but woes persist
Love Island contestants
Love Island is one of the latest ITV shows to be branded a flop
ITV has posted a 12% rise in half-year profits - a day after its chief Charles Allen announced plans to resign.

The UK's largest commercial broadcaster said pre-tax profits increased to 173m in the six months to 30 June, from 154m at the same time last year.

However, total net advertising revenues fell 4% while revenues at its key ITV1 terrestrial station fell 8% to 654m.

The company has been battling against falling viewing figures and declining advertising revenues in recent months.

ITV said that operating profits grew 1% to 205m during the period, though that figure was enhanced by a number of sell-offs, most notably Granada Learning.

Without taking those into account, the profit figure remained little changed at 202m.

"Don't be fooled into thinking these are good results from ITV," said BBC Business Editor Robert Peston.

"Pre-tax profits are higher only because of an exceptional gain on the sale of a business and a fall in the amortisation charge.

"Advertising revenues are down, cash flow from operations - the key statistic - is down, and earnings per share before one-off items is down."

Advertising concerns

The firm has been fighting against rising competition from digital TV stations which has fragmented audiences, a factor seen as partially responsible for the group's woes.

Despite a tough display advertising market, these results show that our strategy for developing our businesses outside ITV1 is delivering
Charles Allen, ITV

In a bid to diversify, ITV has launched a string of digital channels, but still makes the majority of its advertising revenues - about 90% - from ITV1.

Constraints on advertising pricing under a complex contract rights renewal scheme, negotiated with regulators by Mr Allen, have also left the group under pressure.

Looking ahead, the firm vowed to renegotiate the deal with regulators, but did warn that advertising revenues were likely to fall 14% in the three months to September.

However, Mr Allen said the launch of new services - including its audience participation channel, ITV Play - had helped to boost profits.

"Despite a tough display advertising market, these results show that our strategy for developing our businesses outside ITV1 is delivering and they continue to grow at an impressive rate," he added.

Flop shows

In recent months, the broadcaster has also come under fire for a string of flop programmes on its main ITV1 channel.

HAVE YOUR SAY
ITV's recovery will require radical restructuring of its schedule to boost viewing
Russell Long, Tonbridge, Kent

Love Island - which returned for a second year minus its original Celebrity tag after a poor performance in 2005 - has failed to pull in the viewers it was expected to.

Most recently, the group dropped It's Now Or Never from a prime Saturday night slot - an embarrassing move, as the firm had just signed up the show's presenter, Philip Schofield, to a 2m golden handcuffs deal.

However, the group has vowed to "revitalise" its ITV1 schedule in coming months - with the return of its popular shows X Factor and I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here expected to give it a much-needed ratings boost.




VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Charles Allen's history with ITV



SEE ALSO
Charles Allen quits as ITV chief
08 Aug 06 |  Business
The runners for the ITV top job
08 Aug 06 |  Business
ITV1 suffers summer ratings slump
01 Aug 06 |  Entertainment
ITV swiftly axes primetime show
27 Jul 06 |  Entertainment
ITV ad earnings slide continues
21 Jun 06 |  Business
Consortium abandons ITV takeover
31 Mar 06 |  Business

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