UTV Media's 2012 profits and revenues slip

Tuesday 19 March 2013 18.36
UTV Media to issue total dividend of 7 pence for 2012, an increase of 17%
UTV Media to issue total dividend of 7 pence for 2012, an increase of 17%

UTV Media has reported pre-tax profits of £21m sterling for 2012, down from £23.3m in 2011.

Group operating profit fell to £23.9m from almost £27m, while group revenue slipped by £1.5m to £120.1m.

The company said in its results statement that TV and radio revenues were hit by difficult economic conditions in Ireland.

UTV said its board is recommending a final dividend of 5.25 pence per share, making a total dividend of 7 pence.

It said this is an increase of 17% over last year and a 75% increase from 2010.

Operating profit in UTV's television business - which accounted for about a third of overall sales in 2011 - fell 39% to £3.9m. 

Net ad revenue in the television unit dropped 7%, weighed down by a 12% fall in Ireland, where a weak economy dampened demand for adverts.

Irish radio advertising also fell 1%. UTV owns nine Irish radio stations, including LMFM and FM104.

UTV said that the Irish advertising market has declined much more severely than the UK market in the last few years. It said this trend continued last year when the radio market is believed to have fallen by 7-10%.

''However, the worst effects of this further market deterioration were countered by the continuing strong outperformance of our local radio stations in Ireland which recorded only 1% reduction in advertising revenue in local currency,'' the company said.

UTV said that advertising revenue budgets in Ireland continued to be squeezed in the early months of 2013. It said this was exacerbated by advertising being cancelled as a result of civil disturbances in Belfast. However, it noted improving conditions in March.

The company's chief executive John McCann said that UTV has maintained effective control over costs, coupled with strong cash management and continued debt reduction.

He said that UTV has also continued to invest in the development of the business, with the setting up of TalkSport International, the conclusion of the network affiliate agreement with ITV, the deal for Simply Zesty and the renewal of the Channel 3 TV licence.

''Reflecting our strong cash generation and our confidence in the future, we have increased the full year dividend by 17% and remain confident that the group is well placed to maximise opportunities going forward,'' he added.