ITV can play on the world stage, Adam Crozier has shown

Now the CEO must dare to tell shareholders still more international expansion on the content front is required

Profits up 27%, earnings per share 23% higher, dividend raised 35% with another “special” distribution on the way: yes, four years into a five-year turnaround programme, success at ITV is assured. Smart work, Adam, what’s the next trick?

It may be churlish of investors to ask the question of ITV’s chief executive, Adam Crozier, but that’s what happens when a share price doubles in little more than a year. And, when you declare a “special” dividend that is bigger than the ordinary dividend for the second year in a row, it’s fair to wonder whether “special” ought to be reclassified as everyday.

These are nice strategic problems to have, of course, and Crozier has a further 12 months to draw up his second five-year plan. On current form, though, he ought not to be afraid to tell shareholders that the best course is more international expansion on the content front.

Rather quietly, ITV has been collecting production houses via acquisitions, and can now claim to be a top-five independent producer in the US.

Bolder ambitions could frighten conservative shareholders. But ITV, as conceived of a decade and a half ago, was always meant to be a strong UK business capable of playing on a global stage.

Internal strife and a dysfunctional structure, then recession, meant the ambition was obscured for years. Now that it is in sight again, why not push harder?

Demand for English-language content is rising; ITV has displayed a talent for judging what sells around the world; and television, it should be clear by now, is not going to be obliterated by the internet.

ITV should keep up its international investment. The kitty is sufficiently full to allow dividends to rise briskly as well. © 2014 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

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