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Bright picture from Grampian TV

ANY thoughts that the team at Grampian Television might be quietly awaiting the inevitable bid can be dismissed. Along with good results yesterday they flew the independence flag strongly.

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Group profit was up 18% before tax to #3.8m to end-February, even though turnover was shaded lower from #20.6m to #20.5m.

Chairman Calum MacLeod pointed out that an improvement in advertising and other sources of revenue had come close to compensating for the separation of Channel Four airtime sales.

After a first complete year of new licence payments amounting to #722,000 net profit stood at #2.7m to lift earnings from 15.68p to 18.71p. Shareholders will be kept happy with a 23% rise, a 6p final making 7.50p total.

Boldly laying claim to be ''Britain's Top Station'' on the back of a poll reflecting popularity in its own area, Grampian stakes out the case for independents serving niche regional markets.

''With a strong balance-sheet and a clear strategy Grampian is well-placed to flourish in an industry where there is a place for both large groups and the smaller companies,'' said Mr MacLeod.

Among the group's bull points last year were an increase in the share of network advertising from 1.09% to 1.17%, with an increase in top brands business. Also ahead was revenue from the hire of facilities, with benefit from the previous year's #3m investment in studios and equipment.

Growth in Aberdeen and Stornoway premises as media centres improved revenue and cost efficiency. The company is in talks with the BBC with a view to its Aberdeen operation also being based in the Queen's Cross complex.

Mr MacLeod said that investment in commercial radio also formed part of the strategy to expand the group's overall position.

Grampian has increased its stake in Moray Firth Radio and won the Central Scotland FM licence in partnership with Border Television.

That new service, with 2,600,000 audience potential in the central belt, is being named Scot FM. Under managing director Tom Hunter and based in Leith it is aiming for an autumn start.

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