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ITV almost triples profits as ad revenue roars back

Strong recovery for ITV.

ITV reported that pre-tax profits at the broadcasting giant almost tripled last year thanks to strong growth in television advertising around hit shows like X Factor.

The broadcaster said this morning that underlying pre-tax profits rose to £321m for 2010 - up from £108 million in 2009 - as total revenue increased ten per cent year on year to £2.06bn.

Reporting full year results, ITV said its resurgence came on the back of ad revenue increasing 16 per cent year on year in 2010 to £1.5bn - outpacing the general recovery in the television ad market by one per cent, the broadcaster said.

The strength of the businesses recovery allowed it to reduce debt to £188m last year from the £612m debt of the previous year and for the ITV board to indicate that it would restore payment of a dividend from July this year.

Despite the strong ad growth, the general improvement in fortunes and the success of in-house production Downton Abbey, ITV said profits from its ITV Studios business declined by £10m to £81m last year.

Full Story at Press Gazette

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Is anyone prepared to solve the NHS funding crisis?

As long as the political taboo on raising taxes endures, the service will be in financial peril. 

It has long been clear that the NHS is in financial ill-health. But today's figures, conveniently delayed until after the Conservative conference, are still stunningly bad. The service ran a deficit of £930m between April and June (greater than the £820m recorded for the whole of the 2014/15 financial year) and is on course for a shortfall of at least £2bn this year - its worst position for a generation. 

Though often described as having been shielded from austerity, owing to its ring-fenced budget, the NHS is enduring the toughest spending settlement in its history. Since 1950, health spending has grown at an average annual rate of 4 per cent, but over the last parliament it rose by just 0.5 per cent. An ageing population, rising treatment costs and the social care crisis all mean that the NHS has to run merely to stand still. The Tories have pledged to provide £10bn more for the service but this still leaves £20bn of efficiency savings required. 

Speculation is now turning to whether George Osborne will provide an emergency injection of funds in the Autumn Statement on 25 November. But the long-term question is whether anyone is prepared to offer a sustainable solution to the crisis. Health experts argue that only a rise in general taxation (income tax, VAT, national insurance), patient charges or a hypothecated "health tax" will secure the future of a universal, high-quality service. But the political taboo against increasing taxes on all but the richest means no politician has ventured into this territory. Shadow health secretary Heidi Alexander has today called for the government to "find money urgently to get through the coming winter months". But the bigger question is whether, under Jeremy Corbyn, Labour is prepared to go beyond sticking-plaster solutions. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.