ITV blames call-TV scandals for 35% profit slump

ITV saw its pre-tax profits tumble by 35% today, blaming the drop largely on a reduction in revenues from premium rate services following last year’s call-TV scandals.

The broadcaster also said it had been affected by drop in its content division’s revenues, down £37 million.

For the year ended December 31, 2007, ITV said its revenues were £2.08 billion, down 5% on 2006, when the network recorded revenues of £2.18 billion.

Profit before tax was put at £188 million, down from £288 million in 2006.

ITV said revenues from premium rate services were down by £58 million, and also said its production arm ITV Productions was “unable to deliver revenue growth” to match the on-screen successes of shows such as I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here! and the drama Kingdom, which it said were responsible for delivering more viewers to advertisers compared with 2006.

In a statement issued today, executive chairman Michael Grade said ITV was aimed at “improving this performance in 2008″ and that the broadcaster’s turnaround plan announced last September was “on track”.

He said: “I am confident that the business is in better shape going into 2008. The launch of the new ITV1 schedule shows our commitment to innovation. We have launched a succession of ambitious dramas, from Honest to the genre-busting Moving Wallpaper/Echo Beach. The weekend schedule is underpinned by great entertainment, from Dancing on Ice to Harry Hill’s TV Burp.”

But the broadcaster said its content division needed to improve, with revenues suffering because “sufficient and consistent commissions were not secured from ITV and other UK channels”.

The broadcaster said its turnaround strategy required “significant growth” in commissions from UK broadcasters. UK production beyond ITV was down 34% year on year, with “external drama falling short of target”.

ITV Productions secured around 50% of ITV1′s commissions, down on 2006, with the drop blamed on the fact the network decided not to “recommission a number of established programmes – in particular dramas – as part of its schedule changes”.

Last week, ITV announced it had appointed ex-BBC1 controller Peter Fincham as director of television, replacing Simon Shaps, and that Grade had extended his contract by a year to 2010.

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