ITV boss Michael Grade has announced a 35 per cent fall in annual profits following his first full year in charge at the commercial broadcaster.

The group saw pre-tax profits come in at 188 million pounds for 2007, hit by lower revenues at flagship channel ITV1 and increased investment in digital channels.

But executive chairman Mr Grade remained upbeat about the future, saying the ITV channels as a whole delivered their first viewing increase since the early 1990s. The decline in advertising revenue at ITV1 also slowed, down four per cent last year compared to a 12 per cent drop in 2006.

The broadcaster said its total channels family viewing share nudged up 0.1 per cent to 23.2 per cent last year, but the share for ITV1 – home to shows such as Dancing On Ice, X Factor and Wild At Heart – fell 2.1 per cent. This drop was better than double-digit declines for rival commercial terrestrial channels Channel 4 and Five, it added.

Mr Grade, who joined the broadcaster at the end of 2006, said: “The first priority for ITV was to stem the decline.

“We did more than that, delivering an increase in viewing to the ITV family for the first time in over a decade.”

ITV said revenues suffered a 58 million-pound hit from premium rate services.
Last year the broadcaster revealed a spate of phone-in problems affecting programmes such as Ant and Dec programmes, Saturday Night Takeaway and Gameshow Marathon and Soapstar Superstar.