Press Association gets through 'tough year' with turnover up

The Press Association says it is coming through the economic downturn better than most. Its profits fell slightly but it saw a 3 per cent increase in turnover in the year ending 31 December 2002.

The national news agency believes it showed resilience despite the difficult trading conditions. Group turnover including joint ventures increased to £63.7m, up £1.9m on 2001, while the group operating profit, including joint ventures before exceptional items, was £6.3m, down from £6.5m in 2001.

“Profits were down as our lower-margin businesses did well, while our high-margin new media businesses had a tough year,” said chief executive and editor-in-chief Paul Potts.

“However, the strength of our business and the quality of our staff sustained us through a difficult year and gives us confidence for the year ahead.”

Turnover was boosted by a rise in sales from PA’s sports services division and Two-Ten Communications, the wholly owned subsidiary, and by the acquisition of broadcast agency International News Productions.

But some of the gains were offset by falls in revenues from PA’s agency wire services and new media businesses.

PA’s joint ventures, Canada NewsWire and PA WeatherCentre, produced profits down £200,000 to £2.8m on the previous year.

PA chairman Sir Harry Roche said: “We have weathered the storm better than most and delivered a good set of results for 2002.”

The company opened the first phase of its new £5m operations centre in Howden, East Yorkshire (the final phase of the building is due for completion in May), and introduced a new £4m multi media editorial system, Jazbox, for delivering text, data, photos, graphics, audio and video simultaneously from a single production platform.

The year also saw the development of PA’s contract publishing business, the acquisition of features agency Central Press Features and the launch of “Brand X”, a portfolio of web-ready services which are hosted and managed by PA but incorporated into the customer site.

Full results will be available in the 2002 Annual Report, approved on 29 April and which will be issued in July.

PA is a private company with 27 shareholders, most of whom are national and regional newspaper publishers.

The biggest shareholders in the company are Associated Newspaper Holdings, News International, Trinity Mirror and United Business Media.

By Jean Morgan

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