ITV sees ad revenues climb and forecasts World Cup boost

ITV has forecast a 22% rise in advertising revenue in the second quarter, which will be boosted by the World Cup.

However, Britain’s biggest free-to-air commercial broadcaster, has warned that the longer outlook is highly uncertain.

ITV reported an 8% increase in first-quarter advertising revenue, helping group revenue rise 6% to £450m.

The company says: “Advertising revenue growth for the first half should be seen in the context of declines of 15% for the equivalent period in 2009 and also reflects the impact of the World Cup. Into the second half, the year-on-year comparators are more challenging and the UK advertising market is also highly exposed to the uncertain economic outlook post-election.”

“Whilst the strategy review is ongoing, ITV is committing incremental investment in programming and online over the second half to provide a stronger platform into 2011”.

Its main ITV1 channel’s share of viewing against commercial rivals was down 5% for the year to 26 April, with the other ITV channels flat.

Chief executive Adam Crozier, who joined the group on 26 April from Royal Mail, says the first quarter reflects an improvement in the UK advertising market against a very weak market a year ago, but revenue was still tracking 2008 levels.

He says: “ITV’s financial performance over the first quarter reflects growth in UK television advertising following last year’s record declines. Over two years, revenues are still tracking below 2008 levels. The outlook for the latter part of 2010 and early 2011 is tough with more testing year-on-year comparators and uncertain market conditions post-election.”

“Given also the long-term challenges facing the free-to-air market, change remains an imperative at ITV and we are focused on driving the transformation of the business over the next 3-5 years.”

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