Belfast Telegraph

UTV Media scores as profits rise 62% thanks to World Cup

By Lesley Houston

UTV Media plc has recorded a 62% rise in pre-tax profits for the first half of the year.

The £10m profit was attributed to revenues generated from advertising during the World Cup, as well as improving economic conditions.

UTV Media plc's total group revenues rose 13% to £57.8m, the company revealed in its interim statement yesterday.

The TV division grew profits by 30% to £4.4m, as revenues rose 8% to £16.6m.

TV ad revenues were up 9% in the first half, with the group's total radio revenues, including UTV's local radio operations, rose 16% to £38.8m.

Among its best performing radio stations in the UK, TalkSport reported a revenue rise of 33% in the first half, also thanks to the World Cup, fuelling a doubling of profits at UTV's overall radio business to £8.6m.

Radio operations in Great Britain saw revenues rise 20% to £28.5m, with operating profit jumping from £2.4m to £6.1m year-on-year in the first half.

John McCann, group chief executive of UTV Media, said improving economic conditions in the UK and Ireland "bode well" for the launch of UTV Ireland, its first Irish television channel, later this year: "The improving economic conditions in the UK and Ireland, which underpin these strong results, bode well for the launch of our new television channel in January 2015," he said.

UTV Ireland is expected to make a first year loss of between £2m and £3m.

UTV chairman Richard Huntingford attributed part of the growth to the nation's football fans.

"After the very strong growth recorded during the World Cup period, revenue increases in our Great Britain radio division have moderated to a forecast 5% growth in the third quarter," he said.

"TalkSport is expected to be up by 7% and local radio expected to be marginally higher than in the same quarter last year."

Mr Huntingford pointed out however, that now that the World Cup is history, the company expect that growth to slow down to approximately 3% in the third quarter, as some of the advertising booked by sales partner ITV is not destined to be shown on Northern Ireland's television screens.

The new channel will be based in Dublin and will be supported by news staff in Cork, Galway, Waterford and Limerick and will only be available in the Republic.

The channel has already announced the recruitment of veteran Irish broadcaster and former Late Late Show host Pat Kenny who will be fronting a peak-time show in his comeback to television screens.

The move allows UTV Media, which owns the ITV franchise for Northern Ireland, to exclusively broadcast 'cash cow' soap operas Coronation Street and Emmerdale on its new Irish channel.

The channel is expected to start broadcasting early next year.

Belfast Telegraph