UTV owner predicts better things for the year ahead as advertising revenues are hit by 'economic uncertainty'
UTV parent company ITV has posted a 6% fall in profits after a "challenging" 2017, but said advertising sales are bouncing back thanks to a strong line-up including Dancing On Ice and the upcoming Fifa World Cup.
The group reported underlying pre-tax profits of £800m for last year, down from £847m in 2016 after advertising sales fell 5% to £1.6bn, affected by the "uncertain economic environment".
ITV finalised its takeover of UTV two years ago this month and the Belfast-based broadcaster is now in the process of relocating from Havelock House to City Quays 2 in Clarendon Dock.
New ITV boss Carolyn McCall - who took on the top job last month after seven years as chief executive of easyJet - praised a strong performance in difficult conditions and said a "strategic refresh" was under way.
She added ITV had seen a "great start" to 2018 and the group is expecting advertising revenues to continue recovering in the first half, with growth of 1% in the first quarter and growth in the second quarter, helped by the World Cup football tournament.
"There is no doubt that ITV's operational performance in 2017 in a challenging environment was strong," she said.
"We are very focused on our strategic refresh. This will enable us to define a clear strategy and priorities that will highlight the opportunities and address the challenges that we face in an increasingly competitive media landscape."