Murdoch radio group falls to €9.7m loss after asset revaluation

Company took a €13.2m charge after revaluing stations post-acquisition

Rupert Murdoch controls the Wireless group through News Corporation. Photograph: Lucy Nicholson/Reuters

Rupert Murdoch controls the Wireless group through News Corporation. Photograph: Lucy Nicholson/Reuters

 

The Rupert Murdoch-controlled radio company Wireless Group fell to a €9.7 million loss in its most recent set of accounts after revaluing some of the groups assets.

The radio group, which controls a number of Irish radio stations, reported the loss in the 18 months to the end of June 2017 after being acquired by Mr Murdoch in September 2016.

Wireless changed its accounting period to align with its parent company, News Corporation, and recorded the loss having made a €4.95 million profit in the previous accounting period.

That loss came on the back of a revaluation of intangible assets by Duff & Phelps which enabled the group to take a €13.2 million charge.

In the Republic, Wireless owns FM104 and Q102 in Dublin, LMFM in Louth and Meath, Cork’s 96FM and C103, and Live95FM in Limerick. It also owns U105.8FM in Belfast and operates an advertising sales house in Dublin.

In Britain, it owns 12 local radio stations, most of which are based in the north west of England, while earlier this year it was part of a consortium that won the licence to operate the second national UK digital radio multiplex, D2, on which it has launched three new stations, TalkRadio, TalkSport2 and Virgin Radio.

Challenging

“The radio market in 2016/17 proved to be challenging with the continued growth in digital revenue,” the directors said in their commentary. “There has been some slippage in audience as people moved more towards speech radio,” they added.

The group’s turnover increased 28 per cent to €31.7 million in the accounting period, although the period was six months longer than its comparison. At the same time staff numbers fell from 267 to 259.

Accounts for station’s under the company’s control were also recently filed, with Q102 reporting a profit before tax of €62,948, down 86 per cent, and FM104 recording a pre-tax profit of €2.05 million, up almost 4 per cent. Both companies were also taking advantage of the longer 18 month accounting period.

Both FM104 and Q102 cut their staff headcount after coming under the control of Mr Murdoch, who acquired them in a £220 million deal.

Television assets

All of the stations are under the control of News Corp which also owns the Sun, the Times and the Sunday Times newspapers, as well as the Dublin-based news agency Storyful.

The Wireless Group was the company left behind after UTV Media sold its television assets and the name UTV to ITV plc in 2015. The company’s main commercial jewel is the UK national station TalkSport, which holds lucrative football radio and digital audio broadcasting rights.

Earlier this year, The Irish Times reported that Wireless had considered a potential bid to acquire Newstalk from Denis O’Brien.