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ITV profits rise 27% to £581m

ITV posted another big rise in profits today as it benefited from the resurgence of its Studios business and a return to growth in television advertising.

In the fourth year of a five-year turnaround plan, chief executive Adam Crozier said ITV had taken "another step forward" after profits rose 27% to £581 million and revenues lifted 9% to £2.4 billion.

Much of the improvement came from its production arm, which grew revenues by 20% to £857 million following the success of programmes such as Ant & Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway and The Chase.

Mr Selfridge, Poirot and Hell's Kitchen US were also sold to more than 150 countries, while eight of its formats have been sold in three or more countries, including I'm a Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here! and Dancing on Ice.

ITV shares have almost doubled since the start of 2013 and shareholders were given another boost today with a special dividend for the second year in a row.

The company, which is home to Downton Abbey and Coronation Street, has been looking to minimise its exposure to volatile advertising markets by boosting its spending on original content.

It has snapped up production companies behind programmes such as 24 Hours In A&E and the Graham Norton Show to build an arsenal of original content it can sell around the globe.

Revenues growth of 3% in its core broadcast division was driven by a 16% increase from online, pay and interactive services, although there was also 2% growth in ITV net advertising revenues as the market returned to growth.

The year saw significant fluctuations, driven by the timing of sporting events or programmes delivering large audiences. Revenues were down 3% in the first half of the year but this recovered over the second half, with a rise of 8%.

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