Celtic Media Group in €1.4m loss

REGIONAL newspaper publisher Celtic Media Group recorded pre-tax losses of €1.4 million in 2008 following profits of €5.6m in the previous year.

The company owns the Meath Chronicle, the Anglo Celt and the Westmeath and Offaly Independent.

Turnover fell from €24.1m to €19.5m, according to accounts just filed for the year ended December 31, 2008.

The company said 2008 was a very difficult year for the group, with a significant decline in advertising revenue.

"This has been driven by the economic downturn and the significant impact this has had on the local economy in the regions in which the group operates," the accounts read.

The directors said they expected this trend to continue throughout 2009 and they had implemented a number of cost-saving strategies.

The group’s consolidated financial statements have been prepared on a going concern basis, which the accounts say assumes that the group will continue to be able to meet its liabilities as they fall due for the foreseeable future.

They note, however, that as a result of the current difficult credit markets, the group has been unable to agree the revised terms of its bank debt facilities.

"However discussions are ongoing with the bankers and the directors hope an agreement will be reached with them which is acceptable to the group," they said. Bank loans and overdraft interest were almost €3.1m.

An exceptional item is listed in the accounts, referring to significant once -off redundancy costs incurred in the 2008 financial year as a result of the restructuring of operations.

In the year 101 people were employed in printing and production compared with 112 in 2007. There were 29 employed in editorial, compared with 58 the previous year. Sales and administration staff increased from 18 to 49. Staff costs were €7.3m compared with €7.5m the previous year.

Directors’ remuneration was down from €595,809 in 2007 to €327,376.