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UTV report good start to year

NI broadcaster and media company Ulster Television (UTV) has warned of an uncertain future in the sector.
Delivering his comments at the AGM, UTV Chairman John McGuckian said: "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, he added that the "continuing strong performance in Ireland" had provided what he described as "positive indications" for the year ahead.
He said: "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."
Mr McGuckian announced "adjusted earnings per share, which has 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 £3.5 million 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," he said.
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