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Broadcaster rules out takeover of Scottish TV but recognises its own vulnerability to move by Granada YTTV enjoys dramatic profit growth

YORKSHIRE Tyne Tees Television has abandoned any thoughts of trying to take over Scottish Television, chairman and chief executive Ward Thomas said yesterday.

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He added that he did not believe Granada's Gerry Robinson would make a full bid for YTTV despite sitting on an effective 24% holding. Instead, he could try to merge the conglomerate's televison interests with YTTV to form a separately quoted company. Last year, YTTV showed strong recovery with annual pre-tax profits jumping 66% to #21.6m. In common with the whole ITV network, its advertising revenues came under pressure in the second half. However, share of national advertising revenue picked up slightly from 9.6% in 1994 to 10.7% last year on rates 25% cheaper than those charged by Granada. While Mr Thomas is expecting more than 11% in the current year, he took the opportunity to remind the Laser advertising sales house that at one time there was a 14% market share - its franchises cover 14.7% of UK homes. Programme sales edged ahead to #71.1m thanks to A Touch of Frost and Heartbeat dominating on the drama front while Emmerdale, which is to run three times a week from the end of this year, does occasionally beat BBC's EastEnders in the ratings war. Bruce Gyngell, who rescued ailing TV-AM, is to become chief executive, with Mr Thomas staying on for an extra year in an executive role as the television industry is facing a very turbulent year ahead. Mr Gyngell criticised ITN's News at Ten as Yorkshire has been pushing for its time slot to be altered to allow a clear run for major films until 11pm. At present, it is a ``corset'' in the middle of a schedule. ``It is two minutes of news and 28 minutes of magazine,'' said Mr Gyngell. If the timing was altered, the industry could sell an additional 1000 minutes of advertising worth between #60m and #70m in a full year. The company has decided to take no interest in Channel Five and considers that start-up would cost #500m, including #120m of programming compared with ITV's annual #850m. Asked what level of advertising the new channel could expect, Mr Gyngell retorted ``Channel 5%''. Warming to his theme, Mr Thomas, who set up Grampian Television in 1961, attacked the free licences granted to both Rupert Murdoch's BSkyB and Channel Four. Before their merger Yorkshire and Tyne Tees bid a total of #52.8m for their franchises. He admitted there was competition for his two concerns but said the Government should have put in a minimum bid level as Central and Scottish were able to retain theirs for a ``derisory'' #2000 payment. Including its #64m licence payment, some 85% of operating profits end up with the Treasury. YTTV is pursuing a very different agenda to most other media companies and has no intention of investing in cable. Mr Gyngell said there was $40bn swirling around the US terrestrial channels in the recent spate of takeovers, while 95% of cable companies are being subsidised through telephone discounts. The dividend total has been boosted from 4.8p to 14p per share with a 10.3p final for a 1.75% yield. On conventional investment criteria, trading at 35 times 1995 earnings, and maybe just under 30 times for the current year, the shares look dear enough. But the media sector is in the throes of its greatest ever transition. comment.......................Page 19 FACT FILE Final19951994 Turnover#262m#245m Pre-tax profit#21.6m#13.0m EPS28.7p14.3p Dividend14.0p4.8p

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