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ITV sees 45% profit hike

Buccieri upped; Ad revenues recover

The fortunes of ITV, the U.K.’s biggest free-to-air commercial web, are continuing to improve — the broadcaster reported a 45% hike in profits to £240 million ($393 million) in half-year results on Wednesday.

The continuing recovery follows serious belt tightening, a strengthening advertising market and the arrival of a new management team.

ITV, whose biggest hit is talent skein “The X Factor,” is one year into a five-year transformation plan, part of which involves beefing up its underachieving production arm, ITV Studios.

Analysts at UBS described a “stronger than expected” performance at ITV Studios, where total revenues grew 4% year-on-year to $432 million.

The good showing was driven by ITV Studios’ international production operation, which helped boost the division’s external revenues — commissions for broadcasters other than ITV — by 11% to $229 million.

“While there’s still a long way to go, we’re starting to see potential in the level of new work coming through ITV Studios with 68 new commissions so far this year, of which 29 are international,” said ITV CEO Adam Crozier.

Potential money spinners on the international market include “Prime Suspect,” remade for the U.S. in a co-production for NBC, and “Titanic,” created by “Downton Abbey” mastermind Julian Fellowes and now sold to 15 broadcasters.

Crozier announced that ITV has tapped Paul Buccieri as managing director of ITV Studios Intl. In the newly created role, the topper will develop and oversee the business’s international strategy.

Buccieri will retain overall responsibility for ITV Studios America, where he has been prexy-CEO for the past four years.

He will report to ITV Studios managing director Kevin Lygo.

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