Saturday 24 March 2018

UTV says Irish losses set to climb up to €12m

UTV news anchor Alison Comyn
UTV news anchor Alison Comyn

Paul O'Donoghue

Losses at UTV Ireland are set to hit almost €12m this year, nearly triple the original estimate of just over €4m.

The station's parent company, Northern Ireland-based UTV Media, said in a trading statement published yesterday that it has lowered its revenue forecast for UTV Ireland by £2.5m (€3.46m).

The Northern Irish company said that UTV Ireland has had a "slower start to the year" and said that there has been "considerable volatility" in the station's performance.

The news is a second blow in recent months for the fledgling Irish channel after it warned in March that it expected losses to top €8m by the end of the financial year.

The firm is now expecting losses to mount even further, with a spokeswoman for UTV Media saying that it is "just the way the business is at the moment.

"The figure that we gave in March was £6m and we are now forecasting a loss of £8.5m (€11.8m), [but] we've always said that we are four months into a ten-year project," she said.

UTV Media has previously said that its Irish station has been hurt in part by delayed negotiations with advertisers and slower than expected audience build.

Despite its two major UK soaps, 'Coronation Street' and 'Emmerdale,' regularly being watched by hundreds of thousands of viewers, UTV Ireland's original content has struggled to gain traction, with its main 6.30pm news bulletin, presented by Alison Comyn, inset, pulling in an average of just 30,000 viewers.

Total group revenues at UTV Media rose by 7pc to £29.7m from €27.8m for the first quarter of 2015, with television revenues up 25pc. It attributed the rise to growth generated by UTV Ireland.

Turnover at the company's Irish radio division fell from £5.1m to £4.6m. The division is made up of eight radio stations in the Republic, including popular Dublin channels Q102 and FM104.

Irish Independent

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