Carlton 1st-half profit up

Pre-tax profits rose 4%

LONDON — Carlton Communications, the ITV network company, has posted a pre-tax profit of £166 million ($270 million) for the six months ending March 31, up 4%. Sales were $1.49 billion, up slightly on $1.46 billion for the same period last year.

Discounting, however, its startup investment in the digital terrestrial consortium British Digital Broadcasting — in which Carlton is a 50/50 partner with Granada Group — Carlton’s pre-tax profit was up 8% to $279.5 million.

Carlton’s TV interests saw sales of $672.9 million, up 2%. It said, given the impact of young terrestrial Channel 5 and phasing out the complicated Channel 4 funding formula (which has C4 transfer a portion of its profits to the ITV network), the “results demonstrate the continued strength of our ITV licenses.”

Carlton’s video and film interests, by far the largest of which is Technicolor, enjoyed strong growth. Video duplication sales were up 8% to $426.7 million and film processing jumped 14% to $275.3 million.

The company cited video titles such as “The Full Monty,” “Hercules” and “L.A. Confidential” as having been star performers. Credit for the boost on the film side was given to booming cinema attendance and new customers DreamWorks and Polygram.

Sales for the product divisions, however, plunged 25% to $113.1 million. “Both Quantel and Solid State Logic suffered from the strength of sterling and reduced sales in the Far East,” Carlton said.The results came a day after Carlton lost a high court case brought by BSkyB. Carlton must now pay the satcaster about $6 million, money Carlton withheld from a payment of $49 million that was to be given in compensation to BSkyB after it was forced out the BDB consortium (Daily Variety, April 23).

Granada paid its $49 million share, but Carlton kept back a percentage on the grounds that a new regulatory ruling meant BDB could not contract in advance for any extra channels from BSkyB, as it had planned to do.