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UTV to meet forecasts but stays cautious

Northern Irish broadcaster UTV Media said it expects 2009 operating profits to be in line with market estimates, helped by cost cuts, but was cautious about trading in 2010.<br /><br />UTV, which operates the ITV franchise in Northern Ireland, said revenue declined eight per cent for the 10 months ended 31 October, compared to a year ago.<br /><br />Like-for-like sales fell 12 per cent after adjusting for acquisitions, the company said in a statement.<br /><br />UTV, which owns more than 20 radio stations in the UK and Ireland, expects to meet its target of &pound;6m in cost savings for the year to December.<br /><br />However, it said airtime bookings remain extremely short term, offering limited visibility.<br /><br />&ldquo;The full year impact of new activities in 2009 as well as capitalising on the opportunity represented by next year&rsquo;s World Cup, will add to our cost base in 2010,&rdquo; the company added.<br /><br />The Belfast-based firm said it continued to expect to reduce net debt from &pound;96.3m at June end.<br /><br />It added that it expects Sport magazine, the free weekly magazine it acquired in May and run through its GB Radio division, will make a &ldquo;small loss: in 2009, but reach profitability in 2010.<br />