U.K. TV revs up in ’97

Growth of 14% still solid but trails recent pace

LONDON — Commercial TV revenue in the U.K. rose 14% to £4.733 billion ($7.86 billion) last year, according to figures published by the Independent Television Commission.

Advertising sales grew by 9% to $4.4 billion, while subscription revenues increased 24% to $2.12 billion.

But the growth in pay TV is starting to slow down as the market matures. That 14% rise in 1997 compares with leaps of 33% in 1996 and 45% in 1995.

ITV, the top-rated terrestrial web, saw its share of overall commercial revenues slip to 48% last year, compared to 54% in 1996. Cable and satellite channels now account for 36% of all revenues.

Nonetheless, the ITV companies nudged their combined revenues up 3% to $3.83 billion in 1997.

ITV’s share shrinks

ITV’s share of the ad market, its principal source of income, fell to 66% from 72% the previous year, while Channel 4 took a secure 20% and Channel 5 arrived on the scene to take 3% of the annual total, despite not launching until the end of March.

Cable and satellite channels improved their ad sales by 50%, increasing their share of the market to 11% from 8%, or $484 million. But subscription remains their mainstay, with satcaster BSkyB taking $1.67 billion in pay revenues, and all the other cab/sat channels gathering $445 million.

Around half of all commercial TV revenues was spent on producing, commissioning and buying programs — 53% for ITV, 58% for Channel 4 and 45% for BSkyB.

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