GWR profits reveal a drop despite record reach for Classic FM

GWR, the radio group that includes Classic FM, has unveiled disappointing results for the six months to 30 September.

Operating profits were down £1.4 million on the same period last year to £5.8 million. Its total turnover was down slightly from £62.4 million for the same period in 2001 to £62.3 million this year.

GWR attributed the fall in profits to a major restructuring of its UK radio business during the summer. Its sales operation, Opus, took on responsibility for all UK sales, and in a statement GWR said this "had a short-term detrimental effect during the summer months on sales performance".

The fall in profits came despite the continued audience success for Classic FM that saw it achieve a record reach of 6.7 million listeners a week.

Capital Radio, the UK's largest commercial radio group, published gloomy results last week. In the year to the end of September, profits almost halved from £27.8 million to £14.6 million.

However, shares in GWR and Capital rallied this week on reports that the US media company Clear Channel is ready to bid for UK radio groups when the Communications Bill is introduced next year.

Separately, GWR welcomed the Government's decision to accept commercial radio's argument for changes to regulation in the Communications Bill.

Ralph Bernard, GWR's executive chairman, said: "The secretaries of state promised they would listen to our views, and we are pleased that they are going ahead with 'two plus the BBC'. Listeners will be the real winners, with companies such as GWR able to build local centres of excellence, offering local output of greater range and quality."

- Media Forum, p12.