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.
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.