Scotland business

Media group STV raises prospect of dividend return

Stephen Mulhern on the set of Catchphrase
Image caption STV is remaking Catchphrase, hosted by Stephen Mulhern

STV has signalled its intention to resume paying a dividend for the first time since 2006, after posting strong first-half results.

The media group has proposed a 1.5p per share final dividend for 2013, to be confirmed early next year.

The move came as STV reported revenue growth of 84% in STV Productions and a 19% rise in digital revenues for the six months to the end of June.

Net debt was also reduced by 22% to £43.4m over the period.

Revenues climbed by 8% to £51.2m, while operating profit was in line with expectations - rising 1% to £8.2m.

STV national airtime revenue was up 4% in the first half, while the regional airtime market ended the period down 6% "against challenging comparatives".

The group said the regional market was continuing to improve in the third quarter, with a return to cumulative growth of 2% expected by the end of September.

Quiz show

STV Productions secured a number of re-commissions during the first half, including a second series of Fake Reaction, 60 episodes of Antiques Road Trip and 10 episodes of Celebrity Antiques Road Trip.

The production wing has also just announced a re-commission of quiz show Catchphrase, produced for ITV1.

STV chief executive Rob Woodward said: "We have delivered another strong financial performance with a further significant reduction in net debt.

"We are pleased to announce our intention to return to dividend for the 2013 full year."

He added: "The key is to deliver our strategic objective of achieving 33% of our profits from non-broadcasting activities by the end of 2015. Today's results confirm we are on track to achieving that."

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