ITV to reinstate dividend as advertising revenues rebound

ITV PLC updates

ITV has said it plans to reinstate its dividend after advertising revenues rebounded from the biggest drop in the UK broadcaster’s history, although shareholders will need to wait several more months for the payout.

Reporting a 27 per cent recovery in first-half revenues from the year ago period to £1.55bn, ITV said it would not pay an interim dividend but planned to make a final payout for the year “assuming the economy continues to recover”.

The UK’s biggest commercial free-to-air broadcaster scrapped its dividend a year ago when a freeze in ad budgets at the onset of the pandemic hit hard.

Ad revenue improved 29 per cent in the six months to June 30, led by a 55 per cent jump on its video-on-demand platforms such as ITV Hub, the group said in its earnings statement on Wednesday. The summer had started well, ITV said, helped by the Euro 2020 football tournament and return of Love Island.

However, the easing of lockdown restrictions during the period encouraged more viewers to leave the house. Viewers watched 8.1bn hours of ITV in total during the period, a year-on-year decline of 6 per cent. Online viewing, however, improved 6 per cent and 34.6m users subscribed to ITV Hub.

Carolyn McCall, chief executive, has sought to broaden the company’s interests beyond terrestrial British television, increasing investment in digital services and expanding its production arm ITV Studios.

First-half revenues jumped 26 per cent at ITV Studios, producer of series such as Line of Duty.

McCall said in a statement that ITV had successfully completed the first phase of its “More Than TV” strategy and planned to “accelerate our transformation to a digitally led media and entertainment company”.

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ITV generated a pre-tax profit of £133m compared with £15m in the first half of 2020. The company said the board would propose a final dividend of 3.3p per share assuming a continued economic recovery.



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