UTV may sell its TV unit in Northern Ireland

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The Independent Online

UTV Media, the owner of Talksport radio, has hinted it could be interested in selling its television business in Northern Ireland.

"Less than a quarter of profits come from TV now. We're essentially a radio business," Scott Taunton, a UTV Media board director and the managing director of its British radio division, said yesterday.

There has been speculation that ITV might buy UTV's TV business in Northern Ireland, where it has the Channel 3 licence.

"If that was something they were interested in, we'd have a conversation," Mr Taunton said.

Alex de Groote, an analyst at Panmure Gordon, said the City is watching for signs of a change of strategic direction after a boardroom split last month that saw the group's long-serving chairman John McGuckian and two other directors quit. But Mr Taunton said: "The future of the company remains as it was."

Profits before exceptionals jumped 10 per cent to £23.3m last year. But it made a pre-tax loss of £21.7m after a £45m "non-cash" writedown on the its Irish radio business.