Belfast Telegraph

TalkSport firm hits record profit

The World Cup and a loyal male audience has helped radio station TalkSport deliver market-beating advertising sales last year, parent company UTV Media has said.

The Belfast-based group, which is also the ITV licence holder for Northern Ireland, said advertising turnover at TalkSport grew 27% to £28.2 million in 2010 - compared to 6% growth in the national market.

The station, which signed up disgraced former Sky Sports presenters Andy Gray and Richard Keys last month, reported a 36% increase in operating profits to £6.4 million.

The strong performance helped UTV record its highest pre-tax profits of £21.1 million, an increase of 17%, while group revenues were up 7% at £120.2 million.

UTV is one of the largest media companies in Ireland, comprising television, radio and internet divisions. It employs more than 900 staff in the UK and Ireland.

With around three million listeners a month, TalkSport has Premier League broadcasting rights and also covered the FIFA World Cup.

UTV chief executive John McCann said: "I am pleased that despite the difficult economic environment UTV achieved record pre-tax profits. With strong audiences across our platforms and significantly reduced debt we remain confident that we are well placed to meet market challenges and opportunities over the coming year."

Looking ahead, the company said 2011 had started well with its British radio division - which includes TalkSport - expecting revenues to be up 3% year on year in the first four months of the year.

Its radio divisions accounted for 60% of group turnover and 72% of group operating profit in 2010. TalkSport increased listeners by 24% year on year, while its local radio stations in the UK saw a 10% improvement.

UTV's television advertising revenues were up 11% year-on-year, lifting total TV turnover to £36.7 million.


From Belfast Telegraph