ITV reports profits up 45% to £240 million

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The Independent Online

ITV boss Adam Crozier reported improved half-year profits today as he signalled an end to the lean years for the company's production arm.

The group - home to hit shows such as X-Factor and Coronation Street - is one year into a five-year transformation plan, which has seen it focus on "re-energising" the creative pipeline of its ITV Studios business.

ITV posted a 45% rise in underlying profits to £240 million in the six months to June 30 and said advertising revenues were up 2% in the half-year, despite a 14% drop in June due to comparisons with World Cup trading a year ago.

It said the revenues figure was likely to be down 2% this month and by 4% in August as economic conditions continue to hamper its recovery plan.

An overhaul of the ITV Studios management team, including the recruitment of former Channel 4 director Kevin Lygo, has resulted in 68 new commissions so far this year, with successes including dramas Vera, Marchlands and Monroe.

The division accounts for around half of ITV1's spending on original commissions but has not created an international entertainment hit since Dancing On Ice in 2006.

Other new commissions include Red Or Black, a game show due to be hosted by Ant and Dec and which will be ITV's first co-production with Simon Cowell's entertainment production business, Syco.

Mr Crozier, who joined ITV from Royal Mail last year, said: "These are all early signs of the potential for ITV Studios' creative output as we renew our commitment to the producer/broadcaster model."

ITV Studios' external revenues increased 11% to £140 million, driven by strong international revenues, although earnings for the division fell £5 million to £38 million as a result of investment in new programming.

Mr Crozier added: "There are clear signs of momentum building in the delivery of our five-year transformation plan but we know there is still much to be done to rebalance the business as we adapt to the digital future."