Carlton and Granada announce profit rises

The ITV companies Granada and Carlton have both delivered increases in profits and advertising revenues as they wait to hear if their merger will be approved by competition authorities.

Both companies had a strong six months to the end of March, with Granada's pre-tax profits up 35 per cent to £65 million, and Carlton's hitting £37 million compared with a loss of £179.4 million for the same period last year following the ITV Digital debacle.

Granada's ITV ad revenue increased by 1 per cent to £442 million, while Carlton increased its share of total TV advertising by 1.2 per cent.

Turnover at Granada increased by 3 per cent to £734 million on the back of the climb in ad revenues and the relative success of ITV2, which has built audiences of more than one million for some programmes. However, Carlton suffered a decline of 3 per cent in turnover to £509 million.

Carlton's profits were helped by improved performance in its international and cinema advertising business, which increased its revenues by 15 per cent to £37 million.

Michael Green, the chairman of Carlton, said: "Our profits are significantly ahead of last year. We've improved the performance of ITV. We've reduced the costs throughout the business. Our merger with Granada is on schedule."

Charles Allen, the chairman of Granada, said the Granada results showed the ITV fightback is well underway. He said: "ITV's performance is benefiting from a clear strategy, better scheduling, more focused marketing and a bigger programming budget. However, net advertising revenue remains difficult to predict against the current uncertain economic outlook."

Allen cited programming such as Coronation Street, Living with Michael Jackson and I'm a Celebrity ... Get Me Out of Here as "talked-about TV".