Isle of Man News - POSTED Mon 17-10-2011

Manx Radio in "a precarious position" according to chairman's financial statement

by Bill Dale

Manx Radio in "a precarious position" according to chairman's financial statement

MANX Radio is in a self-confessed “precarious position” as it reports another massive trading loss for the last financial year in a statement to be placed before Tynwald tomorrow.

 

Figures contained in the 30-page annual report covering the year ended March 31 2011 show that the radio station has required just short of £1 million to survive as it competes in the local media sector.

 

The figures show that its revenue - generated almost entirely by advertising - has fallen by £40,000, requiring a government “subvention” of £961,050 for it to continue broadcasting.

 

Surprisingly, a summary of the accounts by Radio Manx Ltd chairman David North says that the station lost just £25,806 during the year. The “subvention” was added into the company’s total turnover figures to balance against operating expenses of £2,072,915.

 

However, Mr North does not shy away from admitting that Manx Radio cannot sustain the same level of public services in the future.

 

“I should state, quite clearly, that our staff . . cannot be expected to deliver the same level of public services in the future as we continue to face a steady decline in station revenue.

 

“Analysis of the most recent three years of audited accounts clearly shows the company has reached a crossroads.”

 

He said that the station’s revenue has reduced year on year “due to the proliferation of Island-based companies who depend upon selling advertising to exist.” This includes the two privately owned Isle of Man radio stations - Energy FM and 3FM - neither of which receives a subvention from government.

 

Mr North added that the government subvention to Manx Radio for the existing financial year had also been reduced, forcing the station to further reduce its operating costs with full time staffing levels having been cut by from 35 to 26.

 

Concluding his statement, Mr North says that the Manx Radio board of directors is now seeking government commitment “ to revert to the previously agreed subvention funding”.

 

He added, “This is fundamental if the company is to maintain the station’s current public service output and also allow the company to plan for the future.”

 

Manx Radio has considerable support from listeners and has regularly achieved a top three position in terms of a quarterly audience reach survey. However, the station also has a number of critics and some politicians have consistently argued against continuing the ongoing annual subvention to one radio station whilst the others - and other commercial news and media services - receive no such financial assistance.

 

The Manx Radio report highlights that a number of new media companies have started competing in the local market for advertising revenue in the last seven years, including bus advertising, isleofman.com, 3FM and various publications from Keith Uren Publishing.

 

Previously, it says that there were only five or six main players in the market, including Isle of Man Newspapers, Mannin Media, Yellow Pages, airport and sea terminal advertising and a fledgling Energy FM.

 

The subject of government being commercially active in the open market competing with privately owned businesses in a wide range of areas - such as printing, retail and media - is likely to be the source of much debate on the floor of Tynwald in the near future. 

 

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