ITV to pay out £400m as revenues nudge £3bn

The broadcaster said that revenue for 2015 rose 15 per cent to almost £3 billion as sales at its ITV Studios division, which is behind hit shows including Mr Selfridge, grew by a third. That outstripped growth in advertising sales of 6 per cent as the broadcaster’s investment in beefing up its in-house production arm continued to pay off, reports The Times.

ITV warned that it expected its advertising revenue to be softer than the overall market in the first quarter of this year and would be flat compared to the 12 per cent growth it reported last time around. It expects to recover ground in the second quarter as the European Championships, which will feature a strong line-up of games featuring England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Ireland, boosts its performance. Overall, it expects to outperform the wider advertising market in 2016 despite the first quarter dip.

ITV shares have been under pressure in the lead up to the results on concerns about the strength of the advertising market.

ITV shares opened 1.5 per cent lower after falling 3.5p to 246p.

Pre-tax profit at ITV grew 18 per cent last year to £843 million, or £666 million on an adjusted basis, which triggered a higher dividend payment than analysts had expected. The total dividend for the year was raised 28 per cent to 6p a share which was ahead of previous guidance. It will also pay a special one-off dividend of 10p a share, equivalent to £400 million of its cash, to reflect its strong balance sheet.

It was not all smooth sailing for the broadcaster which is in the process of a changing of the guard after a number of high profile executive departures. Archie Norman, the chairman, is leaving the company this year to be replaced by Sir Peter Bazalgette while Peter Fincham, the director of television, has also departed.

The 2015 results also showed that ITV’s share of viewing had declined last year with its main ITV channel down 4 per cent. The broadcaster attributed that dip to the launch of new digital channels, the poor performance of a number of its shows and the strong performance of the BBC. It said that 2016 has started better with its share of viewing up 5 per cent.

Adam Crozier, chief executive, said that the broadcaster would remain on the hunt for acquisitions. “As we look to 2016 and beyond we see further significant opportunities for growth across the company organically and through acquisitions and partnerships,” he said.