Lord Grade of Elstree, Chairman and Chief Executive of the international group spanning TV・Theatres・Cinemas・Music Publishing・Films・Records and Tapes・Property・Theatrical Costumiers・Ansafone・Insurance, and Merchandising says…
“I foresee another year of widening opportunity”
For the third time in succession, I am happy to be able to report the highest profit figure in the twenty-four year history of the company.
At £16.3 million [£76.3m in today’s money allowing for inflation – Ed] the profit before tax for 1978/79 is 19% higher than the previous record of £13.7 million [£64.1m] achieved last year and represents an increase of no less than 46% on the result for 1976/77.
Our earnings per “A” ordinary stock unit after taxation were 16.77p [78.48p] (1977/78 16.83p [78.76p]) and the total dividend of 8p [37.44p] per unit recommended by the Board was declared at the Annual General Meeting on 13th September. An interim dividend of 3.1p [14.51p] was paid in March and a final dividend of 4.9p [22.93p] will be paid on 1st October.
The activities of the company are now widely diversified and internationally based, and A.C.C.’s leading position in the field of world entertainment is now acknowledged everywhere. In the light of present performance and prospects I foresee another year of widening opportunity.
He doesn’t know it yet, but this is the year everything starts to spin out of control for Lord Grade.
The previous red lines that ACC had said it couldn’t possibly cross when the ATV franchise was renewed are already being crossed and the application isn’t even in yet. For instance, Elstree is gone from the ATV plans, replaced by two – very small – studio centres in the east and south Midlands and a large investment in the existing site in Birmingham. The IBA still weren’t satisfied: they wanted an application that met what was already in their heads. If they didn’t get it, they would write that application themselves and impose it on ACC, knowing that ACC’s one threat – to walk away, blowing a hole in the middle of ITV – simply wouldn’t happen.
The line up of expensive movies looks good, but only The Muppet Movie was a hit; Capricorn One and The Boys from Brazil were only modestly successful; Autumn Sonata broke even; Movie Movie was a turkey; Voyage of the Damned, Escape to Athena and Firepower all bombed. And then there was Raise the Titanic.
ATV Network has enjoyed another distinguished year including winning the British Academy for Film and Television Arts award for the best documentary programme of the year. The Muppets, of which 72 episodes have already been shown in well over 100 countries, is about to enter its fourth series.
There has also been a steady build up of local coverage. In order to strengthen this service a News and Information Centre has been established in Nottingham and a similar centre will be opened in Oxford during the current year.
To meet the increased production required from ATV Centre £1½ million [£7m] will be spent on technical equipment this year in addition to the capital investment of approximately £1 million [£4.7m] made last year and there have also been additions to both staff and premises.
Our American distribution has been placed on an entirely new footing by the formation of a new American company, Associated Film Distribution, set up jointly with EMI to handle new productions with “Firepower” as first of the Spring releases.
Films made under the Marble Arch banner have been sold both to the American networks and for financial release.
The Group now embraces one of the most extensive film-making and film distribution organisations in the world, and I regard the prospects of this aspect of our activities as most encouraging.
Thirty major films including “Capricorn One”, “Boys From Brazil”, “Autumn Sonata”, “Voyage of the Damned”, “Movie Movie”, “Escape to Athena” and “Firepower” are now in international distribution, and will continue as a major source of revenue for years to come. Already the full-length film of “The Muppets” promises to be one of the year’s world-beaters. The mammoth spectacular, “Raise the Titanic”, is in production and will be released next summer.
Despite the terrible winter weather the Theatres Division has enjoyed its most successful year.
At the Theatre Royal Drury Lane, “A Chorus Line” ran into its third year; “Filumena” has enjoyed more than 700 performances at the Lyric; “Annie”, at the Victoria Palace, is clearly a record-breaker in the making; “Aladdin”, with Danny La Rue as its star, was the acknowledged attraction of the Christmas season and the Palladium production of “The King and I”, starring Yul Brynner and Virginia McKenna is the major event of the London theatrical season.
Music Publishing, Records & Tapes
The ATV Music Group has once again produced record profits. During the year there has been further progress along three principal current lines of policy. These are the signing of new, and development of existing, signed [sic] writers; the building-up of one of the world’s most extensive background music libraries and the acquisition or creation of directly owned subsidiaries overseas, including the establishment of new subsidiaries in Canada and Italy.
Although the record industry suffered a second year of recession, the strength of the company’s catalogue, both in terms of established artists and fresh talent, gives confidence for the future.
Bentray properties are located throughout the whole of the United Kingdom and profits have risen from £2.52 million [£11.8m] to £3.46 million [£16.2m] – an increase of 37%.
Important new developments include the rebuilding of numbers 37, 38 and 39 St. Martin’s Lane to include a restaurant, a public house, shops and approximately 10,000 sq. ft. of office space.
We have also acquired a unique site of 1¼ acres in the prime area adjoining Shaftesbury Avenue and Piccadilly Circus. Plans have been approved for the erection of a lavishly equipped entertainment centre for the showing of the most ambitious stage spectaculars, and the doors will open in the early 1980’s.
Ansafone achieved truly remarkable trading results with profits exceeding £1 million [£4.7m] for the first time – an increase of no less than 154%.
Bermans & Nathans, the theatrical costumiers achieved the distinction of receiving The Queen’s Award for Export.
ATV Licensing, one of out liveliest subsidiaries, increased its profits by 15% and our subsidiaries concerned with insurance and commercial leasing operated profitably and efficiently.
Copies of the full Report and Accounts for the year to 31st March 1979 are available from the Secretary, Associated Communications Corporation Limited, ACC House, 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.