Absolute Radio's losses grow to £4.3m

Posted By James on Oct 08 2010 11:49 PM
Absolute Radio has posted a pre-tax loss of £4.3 million in 2009, as the former Virgin Radio group struggled under the recession and declining audience figures.

The national radio broadcaster reported a 32.7% year-on-year decline in its turnover to £14.8m in the 12 months to the end of 2009, compared with £21.9m in 2008. Over the same period, the firm's pre-tax losses grew from £2.66m to £4.3m.

The company blamed the revenue drop on the advertising downturn and the time taken to rebuild its audience after rebranding from Virgin Radio in 2008.

Virgin Radio was acquired by the Times of India group in 2008 for £53.2m, before being relaunched in September of that year as Absolute Radio.

Despite signing up high-profile DJs such as Frank Skinner and Dave Gorman, Absolute has suffered a big drop in its audience share since the relaunch two years ago.

The group's average weekly reach for the three months to the end of June this year was 1.58 million listeners, up from the previous quarter's 1.39m, but down from 2.34m in the three months before its relaunch.

Absolute said that a "targeted programme of cost containment measures" had reduced its costs by 22.5%, or £5.6m, to £19.1m in 2009.

The company also stated its optimism for the prospects going forward as its advertising revenue was up 20% year-on-year last month.

Absolute has also been investing heavily in premium content, such as live music coverage, Premier League football rights and new digital services such as Absolute 80s.

"Against a tough economic backdrop, which continued throughout the whole year, the priority afforded to investment in content in 2009 came at the expense of building and developing market share in this period which immediately followed the rebrand to Absolute Radio," the company said.

"The company continues to reposition itself as it drives towards a digital future, and the strategy of investment in unique and premium content continues in 2010."

Absolute chief executive Donnach O'Driscoll added: "The heavy lifting is now behind us. We look forward to building on the strong growth shown in the most recent audience figures and we are optimistic about 2011."

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