First quarter sales rise 41%
LONDON — The international production arm of U.K. terrestrial web ITV boosted its first quarter sales by 41% partly thanks to new business in the U.S.The global content operation, headed by Dawn Airey until two weeks ago when she quit to re-join Five, increased sales from £41 million ($79.5 million) last year to £58 million ($110 million) this year. Executive chairman Michael Grade said: “Growth has been driven by a strong performance in international production and we’ve secured major primetime commissions and format sales to Fox, NBC and CBS in the U.S.” ITV declined to identify the shows in question. Chief operating officer John Creswell said Airey’s shock departure would not slow the momentum of the content business, as the erstwhile ITV topper had left a strong team in place. Cresswell said: “It’s full steam ahead on the global content front.” He added that ITV was out performing the U.K. TV advertising market for “the first time in years” as the broadcaster issued a trading statement to coincide with its annual general meeting. Group revenues increased by 3% during the first quarter to £492 million ($935 million), but broadcasting sales, hit by the closure of quiz channel, ITV Play, were down by 2% to £409 million ($777 million). ITV also announced that it had added another shingle to its growing tally with the acquisition of Scandinavian format specialist Silverback for an initial £5.2 million ($9.8 million) with a further payment of up to £8.8 million ($17 million) provided certain targets are met. Cresswell indicated that ITV remained on the acquisitions trail both in the U.K. and overseas but declined to comment on speculation that the company is weighing up a possible bid for British drama specialist Carnival.