Sunday 4 December 2016

TV3 losses double despite Rugby World Cup revenue

Independent station takes a €16.95m hit after losing soaps

Gordon Deegan

Published 25/11/2016 | 02:30

TV3 presenter Matt Cooper and Ireland rugby star Sean O’Brien before the Rugby World Cup
TV3 presenter Matt Cooper and Ireland rugby star Sean O’Brien before the Rugby World Cup

Losses doubled at TV3 last year, after it lost the rights to broadcast soaps Coronation Street and Emmerdale to UTV Ireland.

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Exclusive rights to broadcasting the 2015 Rugby World Cup failed to halt a slide in pre-tax losses that more than doubled to €16.95m.

New figures show that revenue tumbled by 16.5pc from €46.6m to €38.9m at the firm behind the independent broadcaster, TV3 Television Network Ltd.

The directors state that last year TV3 launched a new schedule, anchored by Irish programming including the exclusive rights to the 2015 Rugby World Cup and the new series, Red Rock.

"Despite the new programming, the increased market competition resulted in a decrease in the TV3 advertising revenue in 2015," they state.

After buying rival UTV Ireland earlier this year, Coronation Street and Emmerdale, will return to TV3 in December.

The directors state that "although the decrease was partially mitigated by cost savings delivered from the loss of the ITV content, the company experienced a reduction in profitability in the year".

Last year, a subsidiary of US billionaire, John Malone's Liberty Global group, Virgin Media purchased TV3 for €80m and followed it up by purchasing UTV Ireland for €10m in July of this year.

According to the TV3 directors, a combination of the acquisition of ITV content, further investment in improved 2016 and 2017 programming scheduling and continued forecast growth in the advertising market, will improve the company's financial performance.

Numbers employed by TV3 last year dropped from 274 to 261 and the company incurred €782,000 in restructuring costs.

Staff costs increased from €14.39m to €15.97m.

Pay to directors, including pension payments, almost tripled to €1.88m.

That includes €660,000 "for compensation for loss of office and other termination payments".

Malone's Liberty Global also owns UPC Ireland. Earnings at the rebranded cable TV provider, Virgin Media last year slumped to €122m after the business lost more than 22,000 customers during the year.

New accounts filed by Virgin Media show a 20pc drop in earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) after revenues marginally dropped from €351m to €350m.

During the year, the customer base at the cable provider - which recently announced a price increase for customers from January - reduced from 512,952 to 490,310.

The directors said that they are satisfied with the company performance for the year stating that the reduction in customer numbers is primarily attributable to the MMDS digital product to rural areas.

Irish Independent

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