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ITV First-Quarter Revenue Advances 1% on Digital Performance

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May 15 (Bloomberg) -- ITV Plc, owner of the U.K.’s biggest commercial TV station, said first-quarter sales rose 1 percent, driven by growth in online, pay and interactive revenue.

External sales climbed to 571 million pounds ($869 million) from 565 million pounds a year earlier, the London-based company said in a statement today.

ITV, whose shows include “Downton Abbey” and “X Factor,” has been reducing its dependence on advertising by investing in content creation and by acquiring production assets. Net advertising sales from ITV Family will decline by about 3 percent in the first half because of tough second-quarter comparatives, the broadcaster said today.

“While we are cautious about the outlook for TV advertising for 2013, our objective remains to outperform the market over the full year,” Chief Executive Officer Adam Crozier said in the statement.

ITV shares fell as much as 5.1 percent, the biggest intraday drop since June 1, and were down 3.2 percent at 127.50 pence as of 10:50 a.m. in London trading.

Crozier has been seeking to boost revenue from pay-TV and production. Earlier this week, the company said it agreed to buy a 60 percent stake in the U.S.’s High Noon Entertainment for an upfront payment of $25.7 million plus an amount based on performance. High Noon produces programs including “Funeral Boss” and “Cake Boss.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Kristen Schweizer in London at kschweizer1@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Kenneth Wong at kwong11@bloomberg.net

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