Tuesday, March 19 10:31:53
Belfast-based media group, UTV, this morning posted pre-tax profits that dipped slightly from £23.3m in 2011 to £21m last year in what it said was a challenging economic environment, especially in the 26 Counties.
Group operating profit fell to £23.9m from almost £27m, while group revenue slipped by £1.5m to £120.1m.
John McCann, Group Chief Executive, UTV Media plc, said this represented a robust performance.
"We have maintained effective control over costs coupled with strong cash management and continued debt reduction while at the same time maintaining the market leading positions enjoyed by our media assets. We have also continued to invest in the development of our businesses, in particular the establishment of talkSPORT International; concluded the Network Affiliate Agreement with ITV; acquired and integrated Simply Zesty and proceeded with the renewal of the Channel 3 TV licence," he said.
"Reflecting our strong cash generation and our confidence in the future, we have increased the full year dividend by 17pc and remain confident that the Group is well placed to maximise opportunities going forward," Mr McCann added.
Operating profit in UTV's television business - which accounted for about a third of overall sales in 2011 - fell 39pc to £3.9m.
Net ad revenue in the television unit dropped 7pc, weighed down by a 12pc fall in Ireland, where a weak economy dampened demand for adverts.
Irish radio advertising also fell 1pc. 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 7-10pc.
''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 1pc reduction in advertising revenue in local currency,'' the company said.