Today FM

Ryan for Today?

2FM presenter Gerry Ryan is considering a move to the station’s main rivals Today FM. That’s according to today’s Star newspaper. RTÉ radio boss Helen Shaw has described the likelihood of Ryan leaving as ‘highly improbable’.

Tone for Today

Tony Fenton will be back on the national airwaves for a limited period from this weekend. He is scheduled to appear throughout the month of April on independent national station Today FM. Tony will be on air on Saturdays between 11am and 2pm, and on Sundays for the Top 40 Show between 3pm and 7pm. He is filling in on a temporary basis while Tim Kelly takes over the late-night 10pm-midnight slot until Ray Foley makes his debut on April 25th. Tim will return to his usual Saturday and Sunday shows on the first weekend in May.
Fenton made his last appearance on RTÉ 2FM in March last year following a long career with the station. At the time it was suggested that his departure was not amicable.

2FM announce AM closure

Medium wave transmission of RTÉ 2FM is set to close on Monday. This is according to engineering announcements which are interrupting the station’s medium wave service every hour advising of the impending closure. The announcements are being aired on both of the two remaining 2FM medium wave transmitters – 612kHz from the historic Athlone transmitter site, and the low-powered Cork transmitter on 1278kHz. The transmitter serving Dublin on 1278kHz was closed last December.

Report: 021

Newspaper: Communicorp sale depresses Today FM profits

Irish Times
Communicorp sale depresses Today FM profits

Irish Times – February 3rd 2009

CIARÁN HANCOCK, Business Affairs Correspondent

Costs associated with its sale to Denis O’Brien’s Communicorp Group in January 2008 depressed profits last year at national radio station Today FM in spite of a 17 per cent rise in like-for-like sales.

Accounts obtained by The Irish Times for the 18-month period to the end of September 2008 show that Today FM recorded an after-tax profit of €3.9 million. This compared with a bottom-line surplus of €6.4 million in the year to the end of March 2007, when the station was owned by UK media group Emap.

Radio Ireland Ltd, which trades as Today FM, had retained profits of €17.9 million at the end of last September. The accounts covered 18 months to help bring the station in line with Communicorp’s financial reporting period.

Revenues totalled €34.2 million last year compared with €19.4 million in the previous financial period. The accounts state that Today FM recorded like-for-like sales growth of 17 per cent between the two periods, indicating annualised turnover of about €23 million.

Today FM’s administration expenses rose sixfold to €12 million between the two periods. It is understood that this was largely due to costs associated with the €200 million acquisition by Communicorp of Today FM and its then sister stations Dublin-based FM104 and Highland Radio in Donegal, and the subsequent sale by Mr O’Brien of the two local radio stations for €63 million.

The remuneration paid to directors rose to €2.36 million last year from €574,733 in the previous financial period.

This is believed to include bonus payments of just over €1 million by Emap to three of the station’s executives – Willie O’Reilly, Paul Lynch and Eamon Fitzpatrick – relating to the sale of its Irish stations to Mr O’Brien.

Mr O’Reilly, who is Today FM’s chief executive, declined to comment on the payments to directors or the costs associated with the sale of the stations by Emap.

He said trading was “positive” during the 18-month period but that the “past five months have seen a more difficult trading environment” due to a 10 per cent drop in advertising sales.

“A good performance in 2009 would be flat revenues,” Mr O’Reilly added.

In spite of the downturn in advertising revenues, Mr O’Reilly said none of Today FM’s star presenters – who include Ian Dempsey and Ray D’Arcy – would be asked to take a pay cut.

RTÉ stars, including Pat Kenny and Gerry Ryan, have been criticised recently for refusing to take a pay cut.

“We had a good year so we’re not asking our stars to take a [pay] cut,” he said. “In relation to RTÉ, it’s about taxpayers’ money paid through the licence fee but it’s up to them to take a position on that.”

Today FM’s 83 staff earned €6 million in wages and salaries last year. Mr O’Reilly said a pay-freeze is in place and the station is “examining every cost in the business”.

© 2009 The Irish Times

Newspaper: Today FM profits down after takeover

Irish Independent
Today FM profits down after takeover

Irish Independent – February 3rd 2009

Today FM profits down after takeover

By Laura Noonan

Annual profits at Today FM more than halved last year despite a 17pc rise in like-for-like revenues, new accounts show.

The filings chart the radio station’s performance in the 18 months to September 2008, including the January 2008 acquisition of Today FM by Denis O’Brien’s Communicorp.

The costs surrounding that change of ownership are understood to have largely contributed to the plunge in profitability, which saw Today FM return pretax earnings of €4.7m for the 18-month period against a €7.4m figure for the 12 months ending March 2007.

Those change of ownership costs are included in the 18-month period’s overall operating expenses bill, which came in at €30.3m, well above the €12.7m in operating costs for the year end March 2007.

The major operating costs rise was in administration, which jumped from €2m to €13m, while programming costs were also significantly higher.

Payments

Below the pretax line, directors’ remuneration rose from €575,000 to €2.3m — the higher payments are understood to include bonuses of about €1m shared by Today FM’s three executive directors on completion of the Communicorp sale.

On the revenue side, income for the 18-month period came in at €34m, up from €19.4m for the year ended in March 2007, including a 17pc rise in “like-for-like revenue”.

Chief executive Willie O’Reilly said a “flat” performance on revenue would be a “good result” for 2009 as the radio industry contemplates a 5pc to 10pc fall in income.

“The trading environment is currently tough, and there has been a deterioration in the last five months,” Mr O’Reilly added.

“Radio doesn’t do as well in an upturn but doesn’t suffer as much as other media in a downturn.” The radio station’s next accounts will cover the 15 months to December 2009, bringing the company’s financial year in line with Communicorp’s. The next accounts are expected to include substantially lower costs, as the change of ownership costs aren’t repeated and the station continues to “scrutinise its cost base to better prepare us for any further turbulence in the market”.

The latest accounts also show an investment of more than €3.3m in Today FM’s new Digges Lane, Dublin 2, home.

This included a one-off six-figure payment to release the station from its Abbey Street, Dublin 1, lease.

Breaches of contract by Comminicorp stations

Today FM and Newstalk, both owned by Communicorp, have both been notified of serious breaches of contract after they introduced programming changes without prior approval by the BCI. That’s according to a report in today’s Irish Times.

Newstalk recently dropped three programmes from their schedule: Late Night Live with Declan Carty, Splanc and Culture Shock. The removal of Late Night Live has been approved by the BCI; however Newstalk have been ordered to reinstate the latter two by the end of the month on the basis of reduced diversity of programming.

In addition both stations decided to “pool” the services of reporters in their two newsrooms and to share off-peak news bulletins.

Although permission for the changes were sought by both stations, the changes had already been made at this point. This led the BCI to admonish both stations for serious breaches of contract.

Newstalk are still in discussion with the BCI about the dropped programming. They are claiming that the changes are necessary to secure the station’s future.

The BCI have accepted the reasoning behind the shared newsroom resources but will not allow the sharing of political reports.

Although the sharing of off-peak bulletins and the dropping of Late Night Live have been accepted by the BCI they will be subject to review in 12 months time.