UTV profits drop 13% in 2009

LONDON - Media company UTV, owner of national radio station TalkSport and the channel three broadcaster in Northern Ireland, saw revenue and profits fall during 2009 but has seen an improvement in the first four months of 2010.

TalkSport: owner UTV sees profits fall
TalkSport: owner UTV sees profits fall

According to financial results released today the UTV group made pre-tax profits of £18.1m during 2009, down 12.6% from 2008, and revenue across the group was £112.1m, down 6.3% from 2008.

Revenue at GB Radio, the largest division of UTV and owner of 13 local stations as well as TalkSport, was £43.2m, down 4.6% from £45.3m in 2008. On a like-for-like basis, ad revenue from the GB radio division was down 8%.

Operating profit before exceptional costs at GB Radio was down 11.5% year on year to £9.4m during 2009.

UTV said GB Radio and Television revenue have turned positive in the first four months of 2010 and the rate of decline in Irish Radio has slowed. It forecasts revenue across GB Radio to be up 6% on a like-for-like basis in the first few months of 2010.

TalkSport has official broadcast rights for the 2010 World Cup and recently secured two out of seven broadcast packages for the Premier League from next season. UTV said the station is "gaining advertising and sponsorship traction" and is expected to see revenue growth of 16% in the first four months of 2010.

Revenue decline at GB Radio's local stations has slowed and is expected to be down 3% in the first four months of 2010.

UTV said Sport magazine, which is part of the GB Radio division and was bought by UTV in May 2009, saw its revenue double in the first four months of 2010 and UTV said the publication is achieving profit targets.

John McCann, group chief executive at UTV Media, said: "The current, prolonged downturn is unprecedented. Despite that, I believe today's results demonstrate the robustness of UTV Media."

UTV said turnover in its TV division was £32.5m, down by 14.5% from 2008, with the Dublin marketplace particularly challenging and TV ad revenue down 33% in the Republic of Ireland.

The company achieved cost savings of over £6.0m in 2009 and reduced debt by 18% (£19.1m) during the year.

McCann said: "I am particularly pleased that throughout the difficulties we have been able to significantly improve our capital position.

"The reduction in net debt by 18% and cost savings ahead of target, mean that the company is in a strong position to tackle the new financial year.

"I am acutely aware that any recovery is very fragile, but I am pleased that we have seen some improvements in the advertising market so far this year."

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