Brexit uncertainty to blame for advert income fall, ITV says

But the group held underlying pre-tax profits largely firm at £847 million in 2016 against £843 million in 2015 as its push into content helped offset the television advertising woes.

Anyone worrying about the fate of ITV in a post-Downton Abbey era needn't have bothered.

Chief executive Adam Crozier said: "ITV delivered a good performance in 2016 as we continue our strategy of rebalancing and strengthening the business creatively, commercially and financially".

Revenues at ITV Studios, its programme-making arm, rose 13 per cent to £1.4bn, although revenues in its broadcast and online arm dropped one per cent to £2.1bn.

It said it would pay a special dividend of 20 pence a share, worth just over £200 million, on top of a final dividend of 4.8 pence, bring the total dividend for the year to 7.2 pence, up 20 per cent.

ITV's annual results have been boosted by a substantial rise in revenue from its Studios division but the United Kingdom commercial broadcaster has warned that advertising revenues are likely to fall amid economic uncertainty.

However, the channel warned of the challenging climate of economic uncertainty, which has already impacted advertising revenue.

Meanwhile, the group's advertisement sales were 3% lower from the previous year to £1.6bn, a decline that Britain's largest commercial broadcaster blamed on wider political and economic uncertainty. The company said it will look to continuing to diversify revenue streams and to develop its profitable shows.

Looking forward to 2017, ITV Studios will return to good organic revenue growth.

"Whilst our net advertising revenues have declined, we again outperformed the United Kingdom television ad market as a whole", he said.

Overall ITV, which has become a takeover target in the past 12 months, reported a 14% fall in annual pre-tax profits to £553m.

Shares in ITV rose 1.43% to 205.40p in morning trade.

  • Zachary Reyes