UPDATE 1-UTV Media sees radio revenue boost from FIFA World Cup

Tue Mar 18, 2014 5:54am EDT

* Expects Radio GB revenue to grow 17 pct in April

* Sees at least 25 pct rev growth in talkSPORT in April

* Estimates strong first-quarter growth in radio, TV businesses

* Full-year pretax profit falls 16 pct, revenue down 11 pct

March 18 (Reuters) - Northern Irish broadcaster UTV Media Plc estimated a strong growth in revenue in the first quarter and a further jump in sales in its radio business in the run up to the FIFA World Cup.

The company, which has non-exclusive radio rights to the quadrennial soccer tournament this summer, said it expected revenue from its largest division - Radio GB - to rise 17 percent in April, with its popular radio station talkSPORT clocking at least a 25 percent jump.

The broadcaster, which operates 21 radio stations across the United Kingdom and Ireland, said revenue in Radio GB is expected to be 7 percent higher in the first quarter, while revenue from Radio Ireland was estimated to grow 9 percent.

Revenue in the television business - which accounted for about a third of sales last year - would be up 5 percent in the first quarter, UTV said.

UTV also said it renewed its exclusive audio rights to broadcast 380 Barclay's Premier League football matches outside of Europe to 2016.

The company's pretax profit for the year ended Dec. 31 fell 16 percent to 16.9 million pounds ($28.1 million). Revenue slipped 11 percent to 107.7 million pounds at the company.

Revenue from Radio GB slipped marginally to 52.1 million pounds, while revenue at Radio Ireland fell to 21.9 million pounds.

The broadcaster's television unit also saw a fall in revenue at 34 million pounds.

Operating profit fell 15 percent to 20.1 million pounds due mostly to a 36 percent drop in the first half.

In the second half of the year, operating profit rose 10 percent as advertising markets started to respond to improving macroeconomic environment.

"This was particularly the case in Ireland where, after five years of decline, television advertising recorded growth of 11 percent in the second half while radio advertising also moved into growth," Chairman Richard Huntingford said in a statement.

The company recommended a final dividend of 5.25 pence per share, maintaining full-year dividend at 7.00 pence.

Shares in the Belfast, Northern Ireland-based company were trading down about 1.1 percent at 241.75 pence in thin trading on Tuesday morning.

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