ITV blames EU vote for fall in advertising sales
UTV parent company ITV has blamed Brexit vote uncertainty for its first drop in full-year advertising revenues since 2009 and warned over further falls as ad spend remains under pressure.
The group, home to shows such as The X Factor and Broadchurch, said net advertising revenues dropped 3% to £1.67bn amid "political and economic uncertainty".
ITV, which bought UTV in a £100m deal last year, cautioned it expects declines of around 6% in the first four months of 2017. But the group held underlying pre-tax profits largely firm at £847m in 2016 against £843m in 2015 as its push into content helped offset the television advertising woes.
ITV said ongoing economic uncertainty was set to see net ad revenues fall by 5% in January, 7% in February and as much as 15% in March due to the timing of Easter, before recovering in April, with the group forecasting a 5% rise.
Chief executive Adam Crozier said the group performed better than a depressed wider television advertising market, but insisted TV was in "rude health".
He added: "TV generally is in good shape.
"The fall in advertising revenues over the course of last year was more to do with short-term uncertainty."
He claimed that alongside Brexit caution, ad spend has also been hit as supermarkets and consumer goods firms have instead been investing heavily in price cuts over the past year.
On a bottom-line basis, pre-tax profits fell 14% to £553m.