British broadcaster ITV said the advertising market was in good shape, reflecting an improving economy and strong demand for slots around the Rugby World Cup that kicks off in September.

ITV, which shows soap opera ‘Coronation Street’ on its flagship channel, said net ad revenue would be up 6% for the nine months to the end of September, an improvement on the 5% seen in the first half.

Chief Executive Adam Crozier said ad revenue dipped in June and July from levels boosted last year by its showing of games in the soccer World Cup, but was forecast to rise 7% in August and 15% in September.

"The advertising market is strong, clearly helped by a more positive economic backdrop," Mr Crozier told reporters.

He said every advertiser category was up year on year with the exception of gambling, where some spend would shift from the soccer tournament to the rugby event.

The Rugby World Cup, which attracts the young male audience that advertisers find difficult to reach, starts on 18 September and runs until the end of October.

Analyst at Citi said the "solid" results offered some relief on ad markets after recent profit warnings from newspaper publishers.

They said the consensus on ad revenue growth would move to at least 6% for the year, driving the forecast for adjusted earnings per share about 3% higher.

ITV, which has expanded its production business through acquisitions, saw its share of viewing across its channels drop 4% in the first-half.

Mr Crozier said audiences were a priority for the second half, when the group's offerings included dramas such as ‘Jekyll &Hyde’, the final series of ‘Downton Abbey’, and entertainment show ‘X-Factor’.

The focus in British television has turned to ITV's traditional rival, the publicly-funded BBC, with the launch of a far-reaching review on its future earlier this month.

Mr Crozier said the BBC needed to create more distinctive programming and its budget should be to provide an alternative to commercial rivals. "It's about appropriate funding for the agreed scope of operations, he said.

"It's about the BBC learning to act more as an enabler and a partner to the commercial sector rather than a competitor; that goes for local newspapers, national newspapers, television, and many other markets on which they impinge."

ITV's adjusted core earnings for the six months to end-June rose 24% to £400m.