Belfast Telegraph

New UTV Ireland venture expected to hit profits by £6m

By Margaret Canning

UTV Media plc has doubled its forecast for losses for its newest venture UTV Ireland to £6m.

The company also announced preliminary pre-tax profits of £17.2m for 2014 - up slightly from £17m in 2013.

The Belfast-based broadcaster said group operating profits of £19.7m had been hit by £3m in start-up costs for UTV Ireland.

Chief executive John McCann said performance of the new station, launched in January, had been affected by "slower than expected audience build" and delayed negotiations with advertisers.

The venture has met with a mixed reception from critics and public alike.

But UTV said other parts of the business had performed well, with its revenues at its radio cash cow talkSPORT up to £29.7m from £24.3m, thanks to a World Cup boost.

Mr McCann said: "Record audiences for talkSPORT and market leading audiences in both Irish Radio and Television underpin these results, providing confidence that our new venture UTV Ireland, will emulate its older siblings and over time, build a stronger audience base."

But there was no update on plans to sell some of its UK radio portfolio which UTV Media plc announced last year.

The preliminary announcement made yesterday did say the company had returned its focus to television and radio broadcasting after divesting itself of websites PropertyPal, Recruit NI and UTV Drive, in addition to its telecommunications arm, UTV Connect.

Belfast Telegraph