Belfast Telegraph

Company Snapshot: UTV Media plc

By John Simpson

Utv Media plc is the parent company of a group of five television and radio companies in Northern Ireland, Great Britain and the Republic.

In the most recent financial year the group, in common with other businesses seeking advertising revenue, faced the difficult task of coping with the effects of the recession.

In the total revenue of £112m, television revenue fell by £5.5m, to £32.5m. Revenue from radio in Britain fell by £2.2m to reach £43.2m. Revenue from the Irish radio operations, at £24.8m was little changed but this was after an improvement as a result of acquiring FM104, (and a favourable foreign exchange movement) which offset a fall in advertising revenue. The internet activities earned revenue of £11.5m.

Operating profits fell slightly to £23.4m. When this was translated into pre-tax profits, a significant improvement of £2.7m on the previous year was registered. The contrast between operating and pre-tax profits can be explained by a large reduction in financing costs, including interest payments, which fell by £4m.

The net debt owed by the group was reduced by £19m in the year to December 2009.

In 2008 the group successfully completed the acquisition of Irish radio company FM104 and the new media company Tibus, together costing nearly £47m. These transactions were reflected in the large capital expenditure on investment and acquisitions.

During 2009, the group disposed of two radio station investments in England: Valley Radio and Central Radio. These companies generated a loss of £600,000 during the year.

Earnings per share in 2009, based on continuing operations and adjusted for the new share issue, fell to 14.5p compared to 20.6p in 2008 and 26.5p in 2007.

The proposed dividend to shareholders for 2009 remains 2p per share.

Early in 2010, the group reported that radio and television revenues in Britain "have turned positive" and the rate of decline in Irish radio has slowed.

Employment in the group which increased in 2008, partly as a result of the acquisitions, fell in 2009 by 9% to an average of 914 people.