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Desperate times? UTV sells off radio station Juice FM 'to cope with the mounting losses from UTV Ireland'

The company is selling off assets in order to “reduce existing group indebtedness”.

Image: UTV Player

UTV MEDIA, THE parent company behind UTV Ireland, has agreed to sell Juice FM, its radio station in Liverpool to Global Radio Holdings for £10 million (€13.7 million).

The sale, which is conditional on approval by the Competition and Markets Authority, was confirmed in a briefing statement from the company.

“Proceeds from the disposal will be applied to reduce existing Group indebtedness,” the statement read.

Robert Stokes, analyst with Davy Stockbrokers, said that a strategic review of UTV’s remaining UK radio stations is “ongoing” and that “further announcements are expected in due course” in a briefing note.

Last year Juice FM reported revenues of €3 million and profit before tax of €560,000. As of 31 December 2014, the station had gross assets of €828,000.

“We view these sales as necessary to enable the group to cope with the mounting losses from UTV Ireland (now estimated to be €11.7m in 2015) and to ensure that the balance sheet does not become over levered,” said Stokes.

Nevertheless, the move is seen as a positive one by Stokes:

We believe that today’s announcement is a step in the right direction for the group.

UTV Ireland officially began broadcasting on 1 January this year but has struggled to gain audience share for its current affairs and news programming.

Over the five months since its audience ratings share has hovered between 6% and 8% (peak), although much of this has likely come from its exclusive rights to such peak time programming as Coronation Street and Emmerdale.

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Last month, the company released an interim results statement suggesting that UTV Ireland has endured a ‘volatile’ time of it in its first three months of existence.

“UTV Ireland has had a slower start to the year,” the statement read.

It is still very early in the life of the station, and there is considerable volatility in its performance.

The station recently revamped its news schedules to greatly increase the quantity of its coverage.

Station chief Mary Curtis said at the time that the change of schedule was arrived at following ‘significant research’.

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