Belfast Telegraph

UTV profits plummet 43 %

By MARGARET CANNING

The chairman of UTV Media plc has summed up 2013 as "a game of two halves" as the listed company reported a 43% decline in pre-tax profits.

The interim report from the broadcaster, which operates the ITV franchise in Northern Ireland, said pre-tax profits fell to £6.1m in the six months to the end of June from £10.7m in the first half of 2012.

But it said there was a "clear sign of return to revenue growth" across its business, which includes new media encompassing digital agency Simply Zesty, as well as 23 radio stations and television.

Chairman Richard Huntingford said the company would continue to manage its affairs "prudently". It is implementing compulsory redundancies among staff at its headquarters in Belfast's Havelock House but the report did not give any detail of the programme.

Group revenue was down 11.6% from £61.6m to £55.2m – and UK radio revenue fell by 14% to £14.1m in the absence of a big sporting event. Prize radio asset talkSPORT suffered unfavourable comparisons with last year when Euro 2012 was pulling in punters.

Operating profit in Irish radio was down from £3.1m to £2.1m.

TV revenue was down from £16.9m to £15.3m, which was a fall of 9% year-on-year and and 5% below the expectations of stockbrokers Goodbody.

In the chairman's statement, Mr Huntingford said: "In 2012, I borrowed football parlance from pundits on talkSPORT to characterise the different fortunes of the early and latter parts of that year as a "game of two halves".

"That phrase might again be applied to 2013, as a slow first half starts to give way to an improving performance in the second half of the year."

And while TV revenue was down in the first half, it had since "bounced back into positive territory in the third quarter with strong growth being achieved in the previously soft Republic of Ireland market".

While radio in the Republic had also been difficult in the first quarter, it was expecting growth to return in September.

Belfast Telegraph

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