Reporting a thirteen per cent decline in advertising revenues, the chairman of Carlton Communications Michael Green unveiled full year profits before tax of £118 million – 40% down on 2000.

Of even greater adverse impact than the ad malaise was Carlton’s co-investment in ITV Digital (with fellow ITV titan Granada Media). The cash-haemorrhaging pay-TV venture has to date cost its sponsoring duo £800m, prompting Green to assure investors that £45m annually will be slashed henceforth from the unit’s cost base.

But Carlton denies it is set to pull the plug on ITV Digital. Taxed earlier this week about that option, Carlton chief executive Gerry Murphy said enigmatically: “We are looking at more creative solutions than that.”

Despite the downbeat result, investors expressed their relief that things weren’t worse and at 0830 GMT Tuesday Carlton shares in London were trading 3p higher at £2.18.

News source: BBC Online Business News (UK)