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Ulster T.V. PLC (UTV)

  Print      Mail a friend       Annual reports

Monday 27 September, 1999

Ulster T.V. PLC

Interim Results

27 September 1999

                            ULSTER TELEVISION plc                             
                      INTERIM FINANCIAL RESULTS FOR 1999                      


- Television operating profit up by 53% to £5.4m (1998 : £3.5m)

- Turnover up 2.4% to £18.5m (1998 : £18.1m)

- Television operating costs reduced by 10% to £13.0m (1998 : £14.5m)

- Interim dividend up by 11% to 3.10p (1998 : 2.80p)

- Special interim dividend of 35p per share paid in April

- Peak-time viewing share increased to 44.4% (1998 : 41.0%)

  ' The reduced cost base with improved peak-time ratings provide a
  sound basis for generating increased earnings'. - J B McGuckian, Chairman

For further information:

Desmond Smyth       Ulster Television plc    Tel Today:     0171 329 0096
                                             Tel Tomorrow:  01232 262203

John McCann         Ulster Television plc    Tel Today:     0171 329 0096
                                             Tel Tomorrow:  01232 262204

Bobby Leach         Shandwick                Tel:           0171 329 0096

Chairman's Statement

Cost reduction programme

In our 1998 Annual Report I outlined the key challenges facing the Company and
to meet these successfully I signalled the necessity to reduce our costs.

Consequently we initiated earlier this year a comprehensive cost reduction
plan including a staff restructuring programme consisting of early retirement,
voluntary severance packages and fundamental changes to remuneration policy.
Net cost savings achieved to June 30, 1999, amount to £3.0m p.a., or just over
10% of our total operating costs, which in 1998 were almost £29.0m.  While a
high proportion of this reduction will be effected in this transitional year,
the full impact will be reflected annually from next year.  The cost of the
restructuring programme up to June 30, 1999 was £4.2m and this amount is
included in these interim accounts as an exceptional item.The programme was
substantially complete at June 30, 1999 but some additional costs will arise
in the six months to December 31, 1999 with resultant operational savings in
the year 2000.

Financial results

Before the exceptional item the operating profit for the 6 months was £5.4m
(1998: £3.5m), with turnover up by 2.4% to £18.5m (1998: £18.1m).  The
reduction in operating costs to £13.0m (1998: £14.5m) was clearly the primary
contributor to the increase in operating profit.  Investment income was lower
at £0.7m (1998: £1.0m) due to less cash on deposit following payment to
shareholders in April of the special dividend.

After the restructuring cost of £4.2m the total pre-tax profit for the period
was £2.0m (1998: £4.5m).

Interim dividend

Your Board has declared an interim dividend of 3.10p (1998: 2.80p).  It will
be paid on October 15, 1999 to all shareholders on the Register at October 8,

Programme service

The change to the network weekday peak-time scheduling of national news was
implemented in March.  As these news programmes must be shown simultaneously
across the network, the change had far-reaching implications for many of our
regional programmes, especially our early evening regional news service and
our live entertainment programme on Friday nights, Kelly.  It understandably
takes time for viewers to adapt to such radical changes, but the indications
so far suggest a preference for the new format.  Our peak-time viewing share
for this 6 month period was 44.4%, a considerable increase on the comparable
figure of 41.0% last year.  We also increased our lead over the network peak-
time average of 39.5% (1998: 38.0%).

We began transmission in June of our new digital service TV-You.  It is
presently available only to the relatively small number of viewers with the
appropriate reception equipment, but we expect that a progressively increasing
number of viewers will convert to digital over the next few years.

Capital expenditure

The building extension to accommodate a new Central Technical Area is now
nearing completion.  Its technical facilities will be highly automated, thus
enhancing both efficiency and reliability.  Capital expenditure for this year
will be a similar level to the £1.8m in 1998, while next year it will reduce
to our annual trend range.

Year 2000 compliance

As was noted in our annual report the Year 2000 problem is a complex and
pervasive issue relating to computer and digital storage systems within our
business and those of our customers and suppliers. Despite the detailed work
already undertaken given the complexity of the problem it is not possible for
any organisation to guarantee that no Year 2000 issues will arise. However the
Board still believes that it will achieve an acceptable state of readiness and
has also provided resources to deal promptly with significant failures or
issues that might arise. Of the £100,000 of expenditure expected to be
incurred in 1999 in relation to the cost of plans relating to the Year 2000
issue some £60,000 was expensed in the six months to June 30, 1999.


We have also today announced the retirement of Desmond Smyth as Managing
Director.  He will be succeeded with effect from 1st October 1999 by John
McCann, currently Director and General Manager.  I wish to place on record our
collective appreciation of Desmond's contribution to the development of the
Company.  He will remain a Director of Ulster Television until the end of the
year to ensure a smooth handover.

John McCann has been with the Company for 16 years, since 1989 as Director and
General Manager.  His appointment as Managing Director will ensure the key
fundamentals of continuity and stability which remain critical to maintaining
our record of success.  We congratulate him on his appointment.


As expected our advertising revenue growth in this 6 month period lagged the
network, due mainly to regional-specific factors.  Current trading, however,
is picking up and is ahead of budget, and we expect this improvement to
continue.  The reduced cost base with improved peak-time ratings provide a
sound basis for generating increased earnings.

J. B. McGuckian
Chairman                                                   September 27, 1999

Profit and Loss Account
For the six months ended 30 June 1999
                                               Unaudited              Audited
                                            Six months ended       Year ended
                                                30 June           31 December
                                             1999        1998            1998
                                  Notes     £'000       £'000           £'000
Turnover                                   18,487      18,054          37,164
Television operating costs          2    (13,046)    (14,508)        (28,858)
                                         --------    --------     -----------
Television operating profit                                                  
before exceptional items                    5,441       3,546           8,306
Exceptional items                                                            
Restructuring costs                 3     (4,179)           -               -
Profit on part disposal of                                                   
listed investment                               -           -           2,454
                                         --------    --------     -----------
                                          (4,179)           -           2,454
Television operating profit                                                  
after exceptional items                     1,262       3,546          10,760
Investment income                             723         974           1,718
                                         --------    --------     -----------
Profit on ordinary activities                                                
before taxation                             1,985       4,520          12,478
Taxation on profit on ordinary                                               
activities                                  (582)     (1,401)         (4,030)
                                         --------    --------     -----------
Profit on ordinary activities                                                
after taxation                              1,403       3,119           8,448
Ordinary dividends                        (1,629)     (1,469)         (3,310)
Special dividends                   4    (18,391)           -               -
                                         --------    --------     -----------
Transfer to reserves                     (18,617)       1,650           5,138
                                         ========    ========     ===========
Earnings per share                  5                                        
       Diluted                              2.67p       5.94p          16.08p
       FRS 3                                2.67p       5.94p          16.09p
       Adjusted FRS 3                       7.24p       4.66p          10.58p
                                         ========    ========     ===========
Dividend per share                          3.10p       2.80p           6.30p
                                         ========    ========     ===========

Recognised gains and losses
There are no recognised gains or losses in any of the above periods other than
those set out in the profit and loss account.

Balance Sheet

                                        Unaudited    Unaudited        Audited
                                          30 June      30 June    31 December
                                             1999         1998           1998
                                Notes       £'000        £'000          £'000
Fixed assets                                                                 
Tangible assets                             6,445        5,731          6,171
Investments                                   700          848            707
                                        ---------    ---------    -----------
                                            7,145        6,579          6,878
                                        ---------    ---------    -----------
Current assets                                                               
Stocks                                      1,203        1,168          1,302
Debtors                                     5,040        6,343          6,563
Short-term cash deposits                    3,500       15,826         21,979
Cash at bank and in hand                    1,594        2,545          2,056
                                        ---------    ---------    -----------
                                           11,337       25,882         31,900
Creditors - due within one                                                   
year                                     (14,945)     (13,315)       (16,112)
                                        ---------    ---------    -----------
Net current                                                                  
(liabilities)/assets                      (3,608)       12,567         15,788
                                        ---------    ---------    -----------
Total assets less current                                                    
liabilities                                 3,537       19,146         22,666
Creditors - due after one year              (273)        (206)          (298)
Provision for liabilities &                                                 
charges                           2         (283)        (830)          (770)
                                        ---------    ---------    -----------
Net assets                                  2,981       18,110         21,598
                                        =========    =========    ===========
Shareholders' funds                                                          
Called-up equity share capital              2,627        2,627          2,627
Share premium                                 125          125            125
Profit & loss account                         229       15,358         18,846
                                        ---------    ---------    -----------
Equity shareholders' funds        6         2,981       18,110         21,598
                                        =========    =========    ===========

Statement of Cash Flows
For the six months ended 30 June 1999
                                                Unaudited             Audited
                                            Six months ended       Year ended
                                                 30 June          31 December
                                              1999       1998            1998
                                   Notes     £'000      £'000           £'000
Net cash inflow from operating                                               
activities                           7       2,091      4,185          10,527
Returns on investments and                                                   
servicing of finance                           903        756           1,652
Taxation (including advance                                                  
corporation tax)                             (399)        224         (2,049)
Capital (expenditure)/receipts             (1,306)    (1,068)           1,102
Equity dividends paid                     (20,230)    (1,679)         (3,150)
                                          --------    -------     -----------
Change in net funds                       (18,941)      2,418           8,082
(Increase)/decrease in cash on                                               
deposit                                     18,479    (2,295)         (8,448)
                                          --------    -------     -----------
Increase/(decrease) in cash                  (462)        123           (366)
                                          ========    =======     ===========
Reconciliation of net cash flow to movement in net funds
                                             £'000      £'000           £'000
Increase/(decrease) in cash in                                               
year                                         (462)        123           (366)
Cash outflow/(inflow) from                                                   
in cash on deposit                        (18,479)      2,295           8,448
                                          --------    -------     -----------
Change in net funds                       (18,941)      2,418           8,082
Opening net funds                           24,035     15,953          15,953
                                          --------    -------     -----------
Closing net funds                            5,094     18,371          24,035
                                          ========    =======     ===========

Notes to the Unaudited Financial Information

1. Basis of preparation

The interim financial information has been prepared on the basis of the
accounting policies set out in the Company's 1998 statutory accounts.

Although the interim results are unaudited, the auditors have carried out a
review and their report to the Company is set out on Page 10 of this Interim
Statement. The results for the year ended December 31, 1998 are an abridged
extract of the Company's full accounts which have been filed with the
Registrar of Companies and on which the auditors have issued an unqualified
report. The financial information contained in this Statement does not
constitute full accounts within the meaning of Article 262 of the Companies
(Northern Ireland) Order 1986.

2. Provision for liabilities and charges

Provision for liabilities and charges consists of a provision for future costs
on vacant leased premises in London. Negotiations in the period have
successfully concluded, resulting in part of these premises being sublet.
Accordingly, £428,000 of the provision at December 31, 1998 was released to
the profit and loss account in the six months ended June 30, 1999.

3. Exceptional restructuring costs

The Company undertook a review of its operations following the renewal of its
licence. This review has resulted in a major restructuring of the workforce
and related cost structure of the Company.  The costs associated with this
restructuring total £4.2 million and are in respect of compensation for the
removal of the employee profit share scheme and regrading of jobs, together
with the costs associated with the implementation of early retirement and
voluntary severance packages to substantially reduce the Company's workforce.

4. Special dividend

On April 26, 1999 the company paid a special interim dividend for 1999 of 35p
per share, amounting to a total appropriation from reserves of £18,391,000.

5. Earnings per share
                                            Six months ended       Year ended
                                                30 June           31 December
                                             1999        1998            1998
                                                p           p               p
Diluted Earnings per share                   2.67        5.94           16.08
To reflect weighted average number of                                        
shares owned by the UTV ESOP Trust              -           -            0.01
                                         --------    --------     -----------
FRS 3 Earnings per share                     2.67        5.94           16.09
Exceptional restructuring costs              7.95           -               -
Exceptional profit on part disposal of                                       
listed investment                               -           -          (4.68)
Investment income                          (1.38)      (1.85)          (3.27)
Taxation relating to the above items       (2.00)        0.57            2.44
                                         --------    --------     -----------
Adjusted FRS 3 Earnings per share            7.24        4.66           10.58
                                         ========    ========     ===========
6. Reconciliation of movements in shareholders' funds                        
                                            Six months ended       Year ended
                                                30 June           31 December
                                             1999        1998            1998
                                            £'000       £'000           £'000
Opening balance                            21,598      16,460          16,460
Profit for the period                       1,403       3,119           8,448
Dividends                                (20,020)     (1,469)         (3,310)
                                         --------    --------     -----------
                                            2,981      18,110          21,598
                                         ========    ========     ===========

7. Reconciliation of operating profit to net cashflow from operating

                                           Six months ended        Year ended
                                                30 June           31 December
                                             1999        1998            1998
                                            £'000       £'000           £'000
Television operating profit before                                           
exceptional items                           5,441       3,546           8,306
Depreciation charges                          564         527           1,039
Loss/(profit) on sale of tangible                                            
fixed assets                                    2        (32)            (57)
Decrease in stocks                             99         224              90
Decrease in debtors                           548         766             408
(Decrease)/increase in creditors          (3,463)       (804)             843
Decrease in provisions                      (487)        (42)           (102)
                                        ---------    --------     -----------
                                            2,704       4,185          10,527
Exceptional items - restructuring                                            
costs                                       (613)           -               -
                                        ---------    --------     -----------
Net cash inflow from operating                                               
activities                                  2,091       4,185          10,527
                                        =========    ========     ===========

This summary has been approved by our Directors for release to the press
today, September 27, 1999 and the Interim Statement will be posted to
Shareholders and Stock Exchanges on October 11, 1999. Copies will be available
to the public at the Company's registered office, Havelock House, Ormeau Road,
Belfast BT7 1EB from that date.


a d v e r t i s e m e n t