Irish Daily Star profits drop 10% as operating costs are reduced by 5.5%

THE owner of the Irish Daily Star newspaper had a 10% drop in profit last year, according to its newly filed accounts.

Independent Star Limited — a joint venture between Independent News & Media (INM) and British publishing group, Northern & Shell — generated an operating profit of €4.3 million in 2010. This was down by 10% on the previous year; while 2010’s total revenues fell by 5%.

The group cut operating costs by 5.5% last year and paid €4.55m in dividends to its shareholders.

Those costs have been cut further, with the company closing its Sunday title — the Irish Daily Star Sunday — this year. It closed after eight years having never made a profit. It made an individual loss of over €1m in 2010 and was expected to make further losses this year.

In terms of advertising performance, The Star saw a year-on-year decline of 1% in ad revenue against a national average of 7% declines.

Daily readership levels are around the 400,000 mark and it ranks as the leading title in the 15 to 44-year-old reader demographic.

Independent Star managing director Paul Cooke said 2010 proved challenging for all Irish media, but that The Star’s financial performance compared “very favourably with its peers”.

“Furthermore, this performance — combined with the profits reported by INM for the first half of 2011 — show that the domestic Irish newspaper sector is very much alive,” he said.

INM made an operating profit of nearly €35m, before exceptional items, in the first half of this year, but posted a pre-tax loss of €16.4m and a 12% year-on-year fall in revenue (due mainly to the disposal of its London-based newspaper titles).

RTE recently reported losses of €4.7m for last year and The Irish Times posted a €633,000 operating loss for 2010.

Yesterday River Media — which owns six titles across the country — said it has undergone a restructuring, which will save 81 jobs and see all titles survive.

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