Yorkshire-Tyne Tees hints at more job cuts

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YORKSHIRE-Tyne Tees Television, the ITV broadcaster, hinted at a further swathe of job cuts yesterday as it reported a 23 per cent increase in pre-tax profits to pounds 16.1m in the year to September.

Clive Leach, chief executive, who has already axed 320 of the group's 1,250 permanent jobs, said: 'I suspect that over the next year we will be looking at operating practices and revisiting that (the redundancy programme).'

The company, which is the result of the pounds 30m takeover by Yorkshire TV of neighbouring Tyne Tees last July, said advertising revenues were stable in the first three weeks of the new broadcasting regime.

It expected to meet revenue budgets for the first six months of the year. 'Reports of our death have been greatly exaggerrated,' Mr Leach said, referring to criticism of the group's high franchise bid of pounds 52m in aggregate.

The shares put on 8p to 144p yesterday despite cautious noises from some stockbroking analysts. Guy Lamming, of James Capel, said he intended to reduce his pounds 10m profits forecast for the current year because of lower-than- expected advertising share.

The results are not comparable with last year because of the consolidation of two months of Tyne Tees. Earnings per share grew 18 per cent. The final dividend was held at 8.7p making an unchanged 12p total.

Air time demand was hit in the first quarter of 1992 as Yorkshire tried to impose higher prices on advertisers. Its share of network advertising in the year to July 1992 fell from 11.86 to 11.44 per cent, but it clawed back market share in the following three months.

Sales of its programmes, which include Darling Buds of May, A Touch of Frost and Emmerdale, shrank slightly in the UK but exports rose, leaving total sales a little higher at pounds 52m.

The pounds 2.8m cost of redundancies and other merger costs were included in operating costs, which would otherwise have fallen by 2.2 per cent. Staff were given a pounds 1.1m bonus in September. Pay has since been frozen.

Meridian, the ITV licensee for the South of England, has asked its shareholders for a pounds 24m loan capital injection, less than the pounds 30m it originally envisaged.

SelecTV, a 15 per cent shareholder in Meridian, yesterday launched a pounds 4.25m rights issue - its second in 15 months - to raise the cash. It is offering one new share at 17p for every four held. It also reported a 61 per cent rise in pre-tax profits to pounds 287,000 in the six months to 30 September.