UTV Media now makes two thirds of profits from radio

Northern Irish broadcaster UTV has announced a profit rise at its network of radio stations, but warned that advertising was down about 15 per cent since the New Year.

The company, which owns TalkSport and the Northern Ireland ITV franchise, reported flat group operating profits at £28.1m on revenues up six per cent to £120.3m.

While profits from television fell 24 per cent to £7.7m, the radio division reported a 12 per cent increase to £18.5m and now accounts for two thirds of group profits.

UTV’s flagship national speech radio station, TalkSport, saw revenues rise six per cent to £22.7m in 2008. Total radio revenues across UTV’s stations in the UK and Ireland were up 13 per cent at £70.8m.

But the company said TV advertising in the first quarter of 2009 was down 19 per cent on last year. Radio advertising in the same period was down 15 per cent.

UTV group chief executive John McCann said: “Given the wider context of the economy and advertising markets, I am pleased with today’s results and our prospects for the future.

“These are clearly unprecedented times and the impact on the Irish and UK economies is well documented.

“The advertising sector is feeling the full force of the downturn and clearly that is an issue we are actively addressing.

“We are not complacent about the situation, but as a management team we are confident of the operational and financial strength of UTV Media.”

In the past year, UTV has disposed of radio stations in Dundee, Stockport and Edinburgh, which between them were making a loss of £1.5m.

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