YTTV lurches into loss

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The Independent Online
MASSIVE overselling of advertising slots pushed Yorkshire-Tyne Tees Television Holdings, the Channel 3 broadcaster, from pounds 20m taxable profit to a loss of almost pounds 8m for the year to 30 September.

The problems, which resulted in an exceptional cost of pounds 8.8m last year, forced the company to pass its final dividend, cutting the total from 12p to 3.3p.

However, the deficit was lower than the pounds 9.5m initially anticipated by the company.

Ward Thomas, the group's chairman, said the overselling had soured relationships with advertisers, leading to a fall in Yorkshire's share of the advertising market from about 11.5 per cent 18 months ago to below 10 per cent.

The company has since closed its in-house sales department and contracted Laser, a subsdiary of LWT Holdings, the London weekend broadcaster that is fighting a pounds 700m bid from Granada, to sell airtime on its behalf.

Although Yorkshire believes it has fully provided for the problems, its first-quarter performance this year will also be depressed.

At the operating level, profits climbed from pounds 26m to pounds 36m, reflecting a fall in staffing costs from pounds 51m to pounds 43m. YTTV cut 432 jobs during the year, reducing the total workforce to 770.

The results include a pounds 39.6m bill for retaining its broadcasting licence while interest income rose from pounds 1.6m to pounds 1.4m. The group ended the year with nearly pounds 25m cash, about pounds 2.5m up on the year.

Mr Thomas said: 'The problems of last year are behind us and we are able to operate again on a normal basis. In close liaison with Laser I expect to see our share of ITV revenue improve.'

City analysts forecast taxable profits of pounds 4m this year.

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