Wireless Group’s Irish radio business will see revenues decline in 2016 - Davy

Former UTV stations won’t participate in advertising recovery this year, analysts say

FM 104: owned by Belfast-based Wireless Group

FM 104: owned by Belfast-based Wireless Group

 

Wireless Group will suffer revenue declines at its radio stations in Ireland in 2016 “as the recovery in Irish radio fails to take hold” and its ongoing advertising commitments to UTV Ireland “cost the group”, according to a report by analysts at Davy Research.

“Agencies are now forecasting a recovery in radio advertising spend and as the largest local radio operator in Ireland, Wireless Group will be well placed to take advantage of this,” according to Davy. “However, we believe that it will be 2017 before this is reflected in the operating performance of the group.”

Belfast-based Wireless Group owns seven stations in Ireland, six of them in the Republic – FM104 and Q102 in Dublin; LMFM in Louth and Meath; Cork’s 96FM and C103; and Live95FM in Limerick – and U105.8FM in Belfast.

Wireless said last month that it expected single-digit revenue growth from the Irish stations this year. The company was formerly known as UTV Media but gave up the UTV name when it sold the television channels UTV and UTV Ireland to the FTSE 100 company ITV plc. Its biggest asset is the British station TalkSport.

In March, Wireless said it had no plans to sell any of its Irish radio stations, despite the fact that the Irish radio advertising market, which fell 50 per cent from peak to trough, is “only slowly” moving out of the trough, with the market characterised by aggressive marketing, talent poaching and discounted pricing. The group’s chief operating officer, Scott Taunton, said it was “surprising” that the radio market had not recovered to the same extent as the wider economy.