DJ prank a blow to Southern Cross

Poorly rating TV programs and the royal radio prank have hit Southern Cross Austereo's revenue in the latest year, but the TV and radio broadcaster still managed a slight rise in profit.

Poorly rating TV programs and the royal radio prank have hit Southern Cross Austereo's revenue in the latest year, but the TV and radio broadcaster still managed a slight rise in profit.

The company said it was confident its key TV program supplier, Ten Network, could turn around its fortunes.

The main cause of a 6.5 per cent fall in sales revenue to $642.6 million was its regional TV stations, which get their programs from the poorly performing Ten. TV revenue was down 12.9 per cent to $214 million.

"We are confident about what Channel Ten are doing," said Southern Cross Austereo chief financial officer Stephen Kelly. "They presented to us a very solid and robust strategy for the next three years on what they are trying to do with programming.

"We are very supportive, the gap [with other broadcasters] is expected to improve as better ratings and refocused sales efforts start to impact in coming years."

Revenue from the company's metropolitan radio stations, which include the Today and Triple M networks, fell 4 per cent to $262.5 million. Regional radio revenue improved slightly to $176.2 million.

Scandals involving presenter Kyle Sandilands and what the company called the "UK incident" hit its market share and ad revenues.

Austereo suspended all advertising on 2Day FM after a scandal involving the suicide of a British nurse, who was taken in by a prank call by presenters Mel Greig and Michael Christian. The pair phoned the hospital where the Duchess of Cambridge was being treated for a pregnancy-related illness, pretending to be the Queen and Prince of Wales.

Southern Cross Austereo's market share fell to 33.3 per cent earlier this year, before recovering to 35 per cent, still well down on a peak of 38.7 per cent two years ago.

The company made a net profit of $96.1 million in the year to June 30, up 1.2 per cent on the previous year. The result was boosted by $10.4 million in proceeds from the forced sale of a radio station in Queensland to comply with media reach rules. Investors liked the result, sending its shares up 10.5¢, or 7.1 per cent, to $1.585.

Chief executive Rhys Holleran described the advertising market as difficult. He did not expect it to get any easier.

The group declared a final, fully franked, dividend of 4.5¢ a share, down from 5¢ last year.

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