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ITV posts £25m profit in 2009

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ITV posts £25m profit in 2009
ITV has reported a pre-tax profit of £25m in 2009 and revealed that new chief executive Adam Crozier will start on April 26.

In its results statement for the 12 months ending December 31, the broadcaster said that its television advertising revenues were down 9% year-on-year to £1.29 billion.

Total revenue across the entire ITV group was down 7% year-on-year to £1.88bn, but that was in-line with analyst expectations.

A strong close to the year helped ITV outperform the overall TV ad market, which was down 11%. The firm expects TV ad revenues to be up 18% year-on-year in March and up 7% overall in the first quarter of 2010.

The company also reported a 43% drop in adjusted pre-tax profits from £167m to £94m, while earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation stood at £202m, down 4% on 2008's results.

The broadcaster's troublesome pension deficit stood at £436m at the end of 2009, up from £178m at the same time the previous year.

ITV said that it had reduced costs by £169m in 2009, which outperformed its own target of £155m and included £50m in efficiency savings and a £110m reduction in schedule costs.

"Faced with the worst television advertising downturn on record, we took decisive action to improve our operational performance, deliver substantial cost savings and strengthen our balance sheet," said Interim ITV chief executive John Cresswell.

"We won back share of the TV advertising market, grew our audiences in peak time and online, and increased our international production presence. We took out costs of £169m, substantially reduced our headcount and lowered net debt by over £100m.

"While ITV advertising revenues are up 7% in the first quarter, this is against the unprecedented declines of the previous year and, over the medium term, we remain cautious.

"We recognise also that ITV still faces formidable challenges. However, with the concerted action we have taken, ITV can address these from a stronger position, both financially and operationally."

Alongside the results, ITV chairman Archie Norman confirmed that Royal Mail boss Crozier will become the broadcaster's new chief executive at the end of April.

"Under Adam Crozier's leadership, ITV will set out on the journey to become a very different business over the next five years," said Norman.

"ITV's challenge is to reduce its dependence on a free-to-air model threatened by digital media and besieged by legacy regulation. We have great talent and a strong brand and our future is in our own hands."

ITV also pledged it continued support for the development of IPTV joint venture Project Canvas and the long-proposed launch of ITV1+1.

Last month, the Competition Commission gave the provisional go ahead for ITV's £25m sale of Friends Reunited to Brightsolid Group after monopoly concerns were dismissed.

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