ITV reports 5% drop in sales

Global arm sees revenue rise 35%

LONDON — Blighty’s biggest terrestrial broadcaster ITV has reported a 5% decline in broadcasting sales for the first nine months this year, but in a much-needed optimistic note the web’s global content arm saw external revenues soar 35% to £206 million ($329.6 million).

Chief operating officer John Cresswell said despite the economic downturn, ITV was making good progress.

He added: “Our job is to manage the downturn without jeopardizing the progress we are making.”

The decline in advertising coin for the core business was in line with expectations, but commentators were surprised by the strong perf of global content, which earlier this year came under the leadership of former Fox topper Lee Bartlett following the shock departure of Dawn Airey.

Cresswell, speaking at a conference call for journos, said that factual entertainment formats such as “Come Dine With Me” and “Hell’s Kitchen” were driving growth at global content.

Sales in the U.S. and Germany were particularly strong, said the COO, who indicated that ITV remained interested in acquiring more shingles overseas provided the right companies could be found.

Cresswell said: “We’ve got a pretty good liquidity position. The difficulty is finding the right company at the right price.”

While ITV appears to be making some headway internationally, total content sales, including the U.K, grew by just 2%.

Total revenue to the end of September declined by 1% year on year to £1.47 billion ($2.35 billion).

ITV also announced that it is integrating its online activities with its program channels department under the wing of director of television Peter Fincham.

As a result, head of ITV consumer Jeff Henry is leaving the company.

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