Associated Television Corporation
now, in view of its highly diversified activities, renamed
Associated Communications Corporation
‘I am anticipating new record profits in our current financial year’
Review of the year to 26 March 1978
For the third year in succession the figure of profit has risen most significantly.
The 1977/78 profit before tax of £13,700,000 [£71.1m in today’s money allowing for inflation – Ed] is 22% higher than for the year 1976/77 which was, at the time, the highest in the history of the Company.
Comparison with the preceding year, 1975/76, is even more striking inasmuch as the 1977/78 profit shows a rise of no less than 122%.
Profit after tax attributable to members is £8,050,000 [£41.8m].
Once again the Group Results amply justify the confidence which I expressed in my last Annual Statement, and I have every reason to enjoy that same confidence today. I am happy to be able to say that all divisions in the Corporation are trading profitably.
Earnings and Dividends
For 1977/78 the earnings per “A” stock unit after taxation were 16.83p [87.35p] (1976/77 – 14.68p [76.19p]). Accordingly, the Board is able to recommend a dividend of 6.606p [34.29p] per “A” stock unit, being the maximum permitted by the Treasury.
An interim dividend of 2.772p [14.39p] per unit was paid in March and a final dividend of 3.834p [19.9p] per unit (which reflects the reduction in the standard rate of income tax) was approved at the Annual General Meeting.
Tribute to Staff
My thanks are due to all staff at home and overseas – numbering nearly 5,000 – for the part they have played in building the Corporation to its present size and prominence.
Despite the change of name of the Corporation, the name of ATV Network Ltd., which holds the Midlands franchise granted by the Independent Broadcasting Authority, remains unchanged.
ATV is most favourably placed. “Crossroads”, the ever-popular series of which the 3,000th episode was broadcast in August 1978, is produced in ATV’s Birmingham studios; and ATV’s up-to-the-minute topical programme, “ATV Today”, also a product of the ATV Centre, Birmingham, and already recognised as an outstanding service of Midland television news and information, is being still further strengthened by the setting up of regional news centres in Nottingham and Oxford respectively.
One of the year’s most notable and acclaimed programmes from the Midlands production team was Trevor Nunn’s two-and-a-half-hour musical version of Shakespeare’s “The Comedy of Errors”, specially recorded at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-on-Avon.
It is against this background of 339 hours of programmes produced in the Midlands that the Company’s national contribution produced in ATV’s other studio production centre at Elstree should be reviewed.
I need hardly say that, at the appropriate moment, ATV Network will automatically be applying for the continuation of the 7-day Midlands franchise which it has held since 1968, following on the 5-day Midlands franchise granted at the inception of Independent Television in 1954.
The rumblings from the IBA that all is not going to go well for ATV in the forthcoming franchise round have made it to the newly renamed ACC’s boardroom.
ACC drew several red lines that it would not be willing to cross in order to retain its ITV contract, hinted at here. Elstree must remain the company’s leading studio site. ACC must retain full ownership. ACC must specify the board of directors. The link between ATV and ITC, which the Authority had been trying to break since 1964, must remain. ACC must have editorial control of the company, in order to feed ITC.
It crossed every one of those lines as the application proceeded.
ATV Corporation, through its ITC Entertainment subsidiaries, is already one of the world’s major film producers, and over the years I have been at pains to stress the large-scale investment required to finance film production. It is therefore highly gratifying to be able to draw attention to this year’s earnings from the film division, and to remind shareholders that the flow of revenue from this source is just beginning.
In order to streamline the marketing operation of ITC Entertainment films, a new subsidiary – ITC Film Distributors Ltd. – has been formed.
The setting up of a new American subsidiary, Marble Arch Productions Inc., marks yet a further stage in the Corporation’s progress.
The Stoll-Moss Theatre Group had a most successful year. “A Chorus Line” continued to break all records at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane. In addition, the past ten months have seen such productions as “Filumena”, “Cause Celebré”, The Old Country”, “Donkey’s Year”, “The Kingfisher”, and “The Rear Column”. Our new international star policy has brought many of the world’s most famous artists to the London Palladium, including Bing Crosby, Sammy David Junior, Julie Andrews, Shirley MacLaine and Liberace, as well as the record-breaking American musical, “Annie”, to the Victoria Palace.
Music Publishing, Records and Tapes
Music publishing has enjoyed an excellent year. There has been a substantial investment in the development of a background music library and considerable effort has been made in the development and encouragement of new writers.
In the UK, ATV Music was placed in the top three music publishers for 1977 by “Music Week”, and our USA company had its most successful year to date.
The Results of Pye Records showed further improvement, with The Brotherhood of Man and The Muppets scoring notable successes.
Bentray Investments has made conspicuous progress and now ranks among the outstanding property-owning companies in the UK. Profits over the past three years have risen by no less than 45% and the valuation of Bentray’s assets, recently completed by outside valuers, shows an increase of over £11 million [£57.1m] in the period.
Bermans & Nathans, our theatrical costumiers, has shown steady improvement with a continuing development of its export business.
Following the reorganisation at Ansafone, previous losses have been converted into a profit and we expect the current year to produce record results.
The Marbarch Insurance Group is trading profitably and we plan considerable developments both at home and overseas.
ATV Licensing made excellent progress in all fields and is one of our most rapidly expanding subsidiaries.
Copies of the Report and Accounts are available from The Secretary, Associated Communications Corporation Limited, 17 Great Cumberland Place, London W1A 1AG.
About the author
As a public company with shareholders, ATV was required to publish a detailed Annual Report at the end of each financial year. It was common to also publish a Chairman's Statement, summing up the report in more readable language.