ITV CEO Adam Crozier hands out the cash although advertising revenues are flat

ITV CEO Adam Crozier (left) played an unseasonal Santa Claus this morning with a £246m giveaway to shareholders from the £800m or so cash the company has accumulated over the past few years.

This is a considerable achievement but it doesn’t disguise the fact that revenue at its main ITV channel was flat (its much smaller digital channels did better) and that online, its great hope for the future, is still worth only about £100m, a drop in the ocean compared to its overall revenues in 2012 of £2.5bn (£2.2bn once you strip out internal programme sales).

ITV Studios was again the star performer, contributing £712m revenue. Profits rose six per cent to £348m (ITV says its ‘adjusted’ profits rose 17 per cent to £464m but its not entirely clear why a mature business should be treated like a start-up – but they all try it).

We shouldn’t quibble too much, Crozier and his team have done about as well as even the more optimistic followers could have expected (ITV shares have more than doubled since Crozier took over from Michael Grade). ITV now gains just over a third of its revenue from non-advertising sources although the programme-making side obviously benefits from having an advertising-funded buyer on its doorstep.

Crozier dismissed the prospect of a takeover bid for ITV, saying he had received no approaches. He was also notably cautious about any big deals on the company’s part, although clearly he has the money to make a sizeable down-payment for the likes of big indie programme maker All3Media. But such a move might excite the interest of the competition authorities in the UK.

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