UTV Media has reported pre-tax profits of £16.9m sterling for the year to the end of December, down from £20.1m in 2012.

UTV said its group revenue fell to £107.8m from £112.3m. But it noted that revenues dropped by 11% in the first half of the year, while they rose 3% in the second half due to improving conditions in the economy overall.

The company said that advertising markets started to respond to the improving economic conditions, especially in Ireland.

It said that after five years of decline, television advertising saw growth of 11% in the second half while radio advertising also moved into growth.

It also said that it has seen continued growth in the first three months of this year.

"The contrasting performances of the first and second halves of the year are evident in these results, with group operating profit down 36% in the first half of the year and up 10% in the second half. The improvement in market conditions continues into the current year, with all of our divisions recording good growth in the first quarter of 2014," commented the company's CEO John McCann.

UTV said its board is proposing a final dividend of 5.25 pence per share.

The company said that it had made good progress during the year in moving the business to be focused mainly on broadcasting. The most significant move towards this goal was the deal it entered into with ITV to buy the rights in Ireland to its programming from next year. 

A programme content licence was recently granted to UTV from the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland to operate a new television channel in Ireland for a ten year period from January 2015. "Out objective is to provide a service similar to that which we offer in Northern Ireland but customised to meet the needs and preferences of viewers in the Republic of Ireland," the company said.

UTV's activities now comprises three broadcast divisions - Television, Radio Ireland and GB Radio. It said that all three divisions continue to perform strongly in delivering sizeable audiences to their respective markets. 

It noted that revenue at its Irish radio stations - which include Q102, FM104, 96FM and LMFM - rose by 9%, while its Radio GB division saw revenue growing by 7%.

UTV said that the advertising market in the Republic of Ireland had been "particularly challenging" over the last few years, there is now optimism that a corner is slowly being turned.  

While it said it is too early to know if growth in its Irish operations can be sustained for the rest of the year, the trend is so far encouraging, especially in light of its expanding television interests in Ireland.