ITV presses the 'refresh' button as profits slide

Carolyn McCall became ITV chief executive this year

New boss Carolyn McCall - who took on the top job last month after seven years as chief executive of easyJet - praised a strong performance in hard conditions and said a "strategic refresh" was under way. McCall is in the process of a "rigorous and thorough refresh" of the strategy put in place by predecessor Adam Crozier seven years ago.

Pre-tax profits dropped by more than 10 per cent to £500 million in 2017, amid a stark fall in TV advertising revenue.

Shares in ITV (LON:ITV) have advanced in London in today's session, ahead of the group's full-year results tomorrow.

Back in July, ITV noted the fall in advertising revenues, witnessing the sharpest fall since 2008.

The company on Wednesday said that net advertising revenue had declined by 5 per cent in the year to the end of December, to £1.59bn.

Despite this, the TV broadcaster, which Woodford added to his income focus fund in October last year, saw full year group revenues grow by 2% to £3.1bn, driven by good continuous performance of the ITV Studios business which generated a 13% increase in revenues. "ITV delivered a great viewing performance on-screen and online and double-digit revenue growth in video on demand advertising and ITV Studios", she said. We expect ITV Family NAR to be positive in the first half, with Q1 up one per cent and growth in Q2 around the football. "This gives us a solid foundation to build on for the next phase of ITV's development", said Chief Executive Carolyn McCall, who joined ITV from blue-chip airline easyJet PLC in January. The second quarter will include the benefit of ITV's coverage of the FIFA World Cup, which begins in mid-June.

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With a positive outlook for 2018, ITV proposed a final dividend of 5.28p, bringing the total payout for the year to 7.8p, up 8% on the previous year.

McCall also confirmed that ITV Studios is seeing increasing demand, particularly in the United Kingdom and U.S., and has more than 60% of this year's expected revenue already booked.

In addition, McCall revealed that the programming budget would rise by £75m, to £1.1bn, from 2017 to 2019 due to more investment in drama and sports rights.

McCall said the strategy shift would ensure ITV had effective partnerships with advertisers, as well as platform and content owners.

ITV said it has had a "great start" to 2018, with viewing boosted by the likes of Dancing On Ice, The Voice, Vera, Endeavour, Trauma and the Six Nations.

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