Border TV reaffirms wish to stay independent

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MELVYN BRAGG, chairman of Border Television, said yesterday the board was committed to retaining the company's independence after rumours that rules controlling the takeover of small television companies might be relaxed by the Government, writes Topaz Amoore.

Shares in Border have recently been boosted by the suggestion that a takeover by Granada Television, its much larger neighbour, would be a logical step. The shares stood at 120p in June but closed yesterday at 148p, 2p down on the day.

Yesterday Mr Bragg said regional television viewing figures remained high and Border had the strength and ability to cope with economic stresses and changes in broadcasting.

Fears at the interim stage that Border would suffer from reduced advertising revenues and fail to match last year's final figures were allayed yesterday. Final pre-tax profits of pounds 1.25m were slightly ahead of the pounds 1.22m made last time. The final dividend of 2p saw the total lifted from 2.7p to 3.3p.

There was an exceptional charge of pounds 501,000 to cover redundancy costs incurred when Border linked its transmission and sales operations with Granada. Under the deal Granada became responsible for transmitting certain programmes in the Border region, although Border continues to broadcast its own news and continuity announcements.

Trading profit rose 43 per cent to pounds 1.7m on turnover that fell from pounds 11.8m to pounds 11m. Mr Bragg said the early weeks of the current financial year had matched those of the previous year. He said signs that the economy had stabilised led to expectations of real growth in the second half.

Earnings per share were 8.3p against 7.6p.