ITV profits boosted by advertising revenue recovery

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ITV has reported pre-tax profits of £286m for 2010, thanks in large part to a jump in advertising revenue.

This represents a sharp rise on the £25m the broadcaster made in 2009.

Helped by the continued success of shows such as X Factor and Coronation Street, net advertising revenue rose to £1.5bn, up from £1.29bn a year earlier.

The company also said it would reinstate dividend payments later this year. Shares in ITV rose by over 9% following the announcement.

One reason for reinstating dividends was the that fact that net debt fell to £188m, down from £612m in 2009, the group said.

The football World Cup, which took place in South Africa last summer, helped to boost revenue by 10% to £2.1bn, it added.

'Balanced growth'

The company's performance away from advertising revenue was more mixed.

Despite the success of productions such as the drama Downton Abbey, ITV studios' profits fell by £10m to £81m.

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And across both TV and online, ITV's share of the audience fell slightly to 16%, down from 16.7% a year earlier.

"Our outperformance of the advertising television market, together with the actions taken to reduce the group's cost base and the focus on cash generation, have delivered substantial debt reduction and a sound financial platform for the challenges ahead," said chief executive Adam Crozier.

He added that the company remained focused on its five-year transformation plan to reduce its reliance on advertising and ensure "a more balanced and robust business going forward".

The company suffered a loss of £2.7bn in 2008, partly due to a slump in advertising revenue during the downturn.

"ITV is benefiting enormously from the advertising bounceback that started last year and is continuing this year," independent media analyst Theresa Wise told the BBC.

"TV advertising counts for about 75% of ITV's revenues."

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