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UTV owner sees revenues slip as turbulence buffets crucial advertising market

By Staff Reporter

Broadcasting giant ITV suffered a fall in revenues at the start of the year and expects the advertising market to remain tough as it grapples with an "uncertain" economic environment.

The group, which bought UTV's television assets in a deal worth £100m, saw net advertising revenue slip 9% to £393m in the first quarter, but said predictions for the full-year were unchanged.

Revenues at the broadcaster, home to shows such as Britain's Got Talent, Broadchurch and The Voice, also fell 3% to £731m over the period, as it braces itself for a rough ride in the coming months, with advertising income expected to drop by between 15% and 20% in June after a boost from last year's European Championships.

However, efforts to shift revenue streams away from the turbulent advertising market continue to bear fruit, with its ITV Studios production arm bolstering revenues by 7% to £343m in the three months to the end of March this year.

The update comes as ITV remains on the hunt for a new top boss to replace outgoing chief executive Adam Crozier, who will leave the company on June 30.

Mr Crozier said: "ITV's overall performance and the shape of the UK advertising market are very much as we anticipated and our guidance for the full year remains unchanged. Over the first half we expect ITV Family NAR to be down 8% to 9%.

"In line with previous guidance April was up 5%, while we expect May to be down 8% and June to be down 15% to 20% against the tough comparator of the Euros last year.

"The first half performance will also be impacted by the weighting of the programme budget to the first six months and the phasing of Studios deliveries, most significantly the non-recurring benefit of The Voice of China in 2016.

"While the economic environment remains uncertain our guidance over the full year remains unchanged."

Just this week, UTV confirmed it will set up its new headquarters at Belfast's City Quays development.

The move was revealed by Business Telegraph in February.

The broadcaster will be installed in the new offices by June 2018.

Terry Brennan, head of news and programming at UTV, said: "We are delighted to have secured the entire eighth floor of this prestigious new building which is in a prime location in central Belfast for our new UTV headquarters."

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