7 December 2005
Ulster Television plc
Update re trading and integration of UTV Radio (formerly the Wireless Group)
On 6 June 2005, UTV took operational control of the Wireless Group, which it
had acquired for £97m, and which comprises one UK national talk station
(talkSPORT) and 16 independent local radio stations. Given the scale of this
transaction, the purpose of this release is to inform the market of the
progress which has been made in the six months to date.
* Senior Management changes have been implemented and a new team, under the
leadership of one of UTV's existing executives, Scott Taunton, is now in
place at the re-named UTV Radio.
* Cost synergies have been instituted to achieve the estimated savings of £
1.5m net in the first full calendar year of ownership.
* First Radio Sales Ltd, our joint venture sales house with the Local Radio
Company, is now selling the national airtime for our local radio stations
which together with its existing client base now totals 117 local stations
across the U.K.
* The financial reporting systems and internal controls of UTV Radio are
fully aligned and integrated with those in the rest of The UTV Group.
* In the six month period to 31 December 2005, revenue at UTV Radio is
expected to be up by approximately 5%, which should comfortably outperform
the radio advertising market in Great Britain.
In our other divisions, trading in the second half of 2005 is broadly in line
with expectations. The television advertising marketplace remains difficult
and revenue from this source is expected to be down by about 3.5% in the six
months to 31 December 2005, although cost savings will mitigate this
reduction. Advertising revenue in our Irish radio stations continues to enjoy
good growth and should be up by approximately 16% in the second half. In 2005
we expect to write off costs of about £0.6m, including pre-operational
expenditure of £0.4m, in our new radio station in Belfast, which launched
successfully on 14 November 2005. Strong revenue growth of at least 50% should
be achievable in our new media division in the second half of the current year.
John McCann, Group Chief Executive, said: 'We are very pleased with the
performance of UTV Radio, especially talkSPORT where revenues are well ahead of
last year. With the football World Cup in 2006, we anticipate continued growth
at UTV Radio and we look forward to the launch of Talk 107 in Edinburgh on 14
For further information contact:
Ulster Television plc
John McCann, Group Chief Executive +44 28 9026 2202
Jim Downey, Group Finance Director +44 28 9026 2176
Scott Taunton, Managing Director, UTV Radio +44 20 7959 7851
Orla McKibbin, Head of Press and PR +44 28 9026 2188
Powerscourt +44 20 7236 5615
Rory Godson +44 7909 926 020
Anthony Silverman +44 7818 036 579