Grade postive despite profit slide

ITV executive chairman Michael Grade says he has developed “more positive impressions than negative ones” of the broadcaster since he joined at the start of the year. He made the comments as he revealed a 19% fall in underlying pre-tax profits to £364m for the year to December 31…

ITV executive chairman Michael Grade says he has developed “more positive impressions than negative ones” of the broadcaster since he joined at the start of the year. He made the comments as he revealed a 19% fall in underlying pre-tax profits to £364m for the year to December 31.

Grade blamed a lack of innovation in programming caused by a fear of failing in the ratings and its consequences under contract rights renewels (CRR), the advertising regime that was imposed on the company following its merger with Granada, for the fall.

The broadcaster has also reported a 12% decline in net advertising revenue for its flagship ITV1 channel to £1.2bn. Its total revenue for the channel dropped from £2.19bn in 2005 to £2.18bn.

Grade says: “Our overall strategy is right, but we need to improve our allocation of resources in order to accelerate the rate of improvement across all our business.”

The biggest gains for the broadcaster were seen across the company’s other platforms, outside ITV1, where ad revenue was up 23% to £900m.

The digital channels, which include ITV2, ITV3, ITV4 and ITV News, saw some of the biggest growth. Revenues were up 41% to £157m, exceeding their £150m target a year early.

The results come amid a difficult week for ITV after it announced it was suspending its interactive voting element in shows after launching an investigation into recent controversy over the use of premium-rate phone lines.

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