Regional newspaper publisher’s operating costs increase by 11%

REGIONAL newspaper publisher Celtic Media Group increased its operating profits in 2006 by 11%.

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

Profits rose to €8.15 million from €7.34m, according to accounts just lodged with the Companies Registration Office.

At pre-tax level, profits were up by more than 80% at €9.4m after the company booked a e3.6m gain from the sale of fixed assets.

At the end of 2006, the company has retained profit of €12.4m compared with €5.6m in 2005.

Celtic Media entered the Irish newspaper market with the purchase of the Meath Chronicle from the Davis family in 2002 for €30m. Celtic is owned by Dunfermline Press, which is headed by Dublin-born Deirdre Romanes. The Dunfermline Press Group has been owned by the Romanes family since 1859 and publishes five regional newspapers in Scotland.

Celtic Media said it traded satisfactorily during the year with revenues increasing from €22.2m to €23.6m.

“The directors are also aware of the risks faced by the group such as high cost increases in respect of newsprint and labour,potential migration of advertising revenues, an erosion of circulation revenues and a decline in overall economic activity levels in their main markets.

“While recognising these risks the group is satisfied that it has comprehensive strategies in place to deal with any such issues in the future and are optimistic of achieving good sales growth and results in 2007,” it said.

The company plans to pay out a dividend of €800,000 to its shareholders.

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