Channel 5 has said it expects its profits for last year to be the biggest since the broadcaster launched almost a quarter of a century ago, fuelled by a TV advertising boom off the back of lockdown hits.

The public service broadcaster, which is controlled by MTV-owner ViacomCBS, said when its 2021 results were officially reported it was likely to deliver a record operating profit.

This means Channel 5 is banking on having made in excess of £60m last year, given the broadcaster’s previous most lucrative year was 2016 when it reported £58.3m in operating profits, according to filings at Companies House.

The broadcaster, whose previous owners have included the German media group RTL and Richard Desmond’s Northern & Shell, has managed to report annual profits in only nine of the 24 years since it was founded in 1997.

Channel 5 revealed the 2021 forecast in financial filings that showed a £7m operating loss for 2020, as revenues fell 16% to £294m compared with 2019.

The company said the challenging conditions at the height of the pandemic in 2020 gave way to a record year for the total UK TV ad market last year, with revenues up 23% to £4.6bn, ahead of 2019 levels.

The strong performance of a string of shows in 2020 such as Our Yorkshire Farm, Channel 5’s highest rated factual programme, and the revival of All Creatures Great and Small, its best-performing programme since 2016, as well as dramas such as The Deceived pushed its share of all UK TV audiences to the highest level since 2014.

The strong viewing performance in 2020, which included a 17% increase in primetime viewing and its biggest ABC1 audience since 2008, paved the way for record deals with advertisers as the UK TV market bounced back strongly last year.

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