U.K. TV grows Granada’s profits

Division helps push half-year numbers to $449 mil

LONDON — A strong performance from Granada Group’s U.K. TV division helped to push the company’s half-year profits up 13% to £274 million ($449 million) before tax and exceptional items.

Granada’s media division contributed a 26% rise in operating profit to $184 million for the six months to March 28.

Sales for the overall group, which also includes hotels, restaurants and a consumer rental business, increased by 12% to $3.16 billion, with media contributing a dynamic 49% rise to $805 million.

That increase reflected the acquisition of regional ITV station Yorkshire Tyne Tees TV, adding to Granada’s two existing stations, Granada TV and LWT. Together, this means that Granada now owns more than a third of the ITV web, the U.K.’s top-rated network.

Most-favored player

Granada has used this extra muscle to increase its share of ITV advertising revenues ahead of the web’s overall rate of growth. Granada’s ad revenue grew by 24% in April and May (after the period reporting in the latest financial results), whereas ITV’s overall revenue grew by 17%.

Granada is also the largest single producer for the ITV web, supplying more than half of its programming, and eight out of its top-10 rated shows. But the company also produces successfully for rival webs, including the BBC, Channel 4, Channel 5 and BSkyB.

Its other broadcasting interests include a half share in British Digital Broadcasting, which is due to launch a package of digital terrestrial TV channels later this year. It also has a minority stake in satcaster BSkyB, due to launch its own digital package this summer, and a joint venture with BSkyB to run its own satellite channels under the banner Granada Sky Broadcasting.

Granada recently sold BSkyB another 9.5% stake in GSkyB in a deal which valued the business at $164 million, compared with the startup investment so far of $33 million.