United News earnings up

Profits up 2.2% to $295 mil

LONDON — TV and newspaper group United News & Media has posted modestly improved results for the half year ending June 30, with pre-tax profits up 2.2% to £177.9 million ($295.3 million) on sales of $1.9 billion, up from $1.8 billion last year.

The group’s broadcasting interests include the ITV network companies Meridian, Anglia and HTV, as well as a 29% share in the terrestrial Channel 5. Although ITV’s ratings are slowly eroding in the face of competition from both C5 and cable and satellite TV in Britain, advertising sales for United’s ITV companies rose 2.3% to $343.6 million.

“Meridian, Anglia and HTV continued to grow satisfactorily, and the near-term outlook remains in line with our expectations,” United said.

United reported its TV production division, United Productions, grew “rapidly and supplied over 900 hours of new programming to both ITV and Channel 5, with total production growth of 97% year on year.”

The group’s share of loss on C5 — still in its start-up phase after 18 months on the air — was higher than expected at $19.4 million. C5, however, is approaching a 5% market share, typically capturing between 4% and 5% of Brit viewers on a weekly basis.

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