Embargoed until 12 noon 28 May 2004
Ulster Television plc
Chairman's AGM Statement
Ulster Television Chairman, John B McGuckian gave the following trading update
at the annual general meeting of Ulster Television plc (UTV) today.
'The impact of the recession on media companies throughout the country, in the
last four years, has been well documented, with sometimes savage cuts in
shareholder value being reported.
'Throughout this period UTV's strategy of creating new revenue and profit
streams while aggressively driving forward our television business has stood us
in good stead. In television, we have significantly outperformed our ITV peers,
increasing our share of ITV net advertising revenue from 1.98% to 2.36%. In
radio, we have created a coherent group delivering advertising solutions for
both national and local advertisers in the major urban areas and reaching 26%
of adult listeners in the Republic of Ireland.
'And in new media, we have established ourselves as one of the leading players
in Ireland with strong growth being achieved in both turnover and
'The combined effect of our efforts in these three divisions is seen in our
adjusted earnings per share which experienced some growth in the four year
period ended 31 December 2003, despite the impact of the advertising recession
and the absorption of an additional £3.5m of network television programme
costs. Our confidence in our ability to successfully weather the storm was
demonstrated by the 32% increase in dividend payments to our shareholders over
the same four year period.
'Moving into 2004, a continuing feature of UTV's progress is outperformance.
Our net television advertising revenue in the first six months of the current
year is expected to increase by 16% compared to 3.5% for ITV as a whole, with
the Irish marketplace performing particularly well throughout the period and
the European soccer championship fuelling additional demand in June.
'Radio advertising revenue in our Cork and Limerick stations has grown by 8.5%
in the first five months. We have identified the weakness in our Dublin radio
station and outlined the remedial action which we are taking. This action is
already starting to bear fruit with the most recent Joint National Listenership
Research data showing that audience reach had increased from 9% to 12% at Q102
in Dublin. We would expect to see further improvement in both listenership and
revenue in the second half of the year.
'New media continues to grow strongly with a 40% increase in internet revenues
in the five months to the end of May. Our key objective of increasing broadband
penetration carries customer acquisition costs which will reduce our operating
margins, particularly in the first half of this year, but will drive further
increases in profitability in the full year.
'Overall, the current year has got off to a very good start, but the
advertising market is still relatively short term and it is impossible to
predict trading prospects in the second half with any great certainty. However,
our continuing strong performance in Ireland provides positive indications for
the year as a whole.'
For further information:
John McCann, Group Chief Executive 028 9026 2201
Jim Downey, Group Financial Director 028 9026 2176
Nicola Bothwell, Press Officer 028 9026 2187
Tom Kelly 020 7493 3716
Mark Hutcheon 020 7493 3716