UBC Media Group
|Type||Public (LSE: UBC)|
|Headquarters||London, England, UK|
|Key people||Simon Cole, Chief Executive
Tim Blackmore, Group Editorial Director
|Products||TV and Radio services|
UBC Media Group is an independent supplier of services to the radio industry. It provides content to BBC and commercial stations, as well as private clients. UBC also supplies software that operates digital radio data services.
Cole is Chief Executive, having started out as a trainee at the BBC and developed national sponsored programmes whilst at Piccadilly Radio in Manchester.
UBC bought the Classic Gold Digital Network which includes digital and analogue licences from GWR Group in two separate transactions in 2000 and 2002 for about £2m. In 2007, UBC effectively sold them back for £3.95m to GCap Media - the company created from the merger of GWR Group and Capital Radio Group.
In July 2006, as part of UBC's move away from owning radio stations, it sold its share in Digital News Network (DNN) for £66k.
In May 2008, UBC announced its Commercial Division was being bought by the American company, GTN for £15 million. The deal was expected to complete around the end of July 2008; a definitive agreement was announced in February 2009.
In June 2008, UBC announced it was closing down its loss-making venture Cliq, a service which allowed DAB listeners to download music to onto their mobile phones. The system was designed to be implemented on DAB-enabled mobile phones, but few manufacturers have been interested in adding DAB to their handsets.
Two years on, and the company pulled out of DAB by selling its 7.5% stake in MXR Digital. The stake was bought by fellow shareholder Guardian Media Group for £136,000 plus a one-off cash dividend payment from MXR of £52,000.
The move is part of UBC's strategy to focus on the production of content and the development of interactive software. As part of the agreement, UBC was also released from its spectrum contracts that were due to run until 2015 with MXR. This enabled UBC to release circa £400,000 of provision which had been made to cover this contract.
Divisions and Services
UBC Group has two divisions:
1) Broadcast Division
UBC produces Commissioned programming to the BBC via its production companies:
- Unique - Radio production (based in London)
- Smooth Operations - TV and Radio production (based in Manchester). Predominantly specialising in music and live music production, Smooth Operations also produces BBC events such as The Radio 2 Folk Awards and The Radio Academy's annual industry conference The Radio Festival. Along with BBC Commissioned programming, they produce TV content for Sky Arts, covering live music events such as Cambridge Folk Festival and Celtic Connections.They also produce commissioned radio programming for RTÉ 2fm.
The company also produces Digital Content in the form of podcasts for various clients, while Unique Facilities offers in-house and outside broadcast production facilities from its base near Marylebone, London.
2) Digital Division
Unique Interactive produces software including:
- ManDLS - a system which updates the text on DAB sets
- EPG - an Electronic Programme Guide for DAB for EPG-capable devices
Before the sale of its Networked Programming division, UBC's business model relied heavily on providing content to commercial radio based on so-called “Barter syndication”, effectively giving content to stations in exchange for selling some of their advertising airtime. But as revenues from radio advertising slumps, so did the group's profitability.
UBC’s post-tax operating loss for the year (2006–2007) was £1.26 million (compared to £193,000 in 2005-2006).
The company is focussing on reducing costs and increasing profitability by ditching its digital radio stations and concentrating on providing content.
- "UBC Media Group - Board of Directors". UBC Media Group. Retrieved 2008-05-21.
- The Radio Academy "Fellows"
- "UBC Media Group - Press Release on closure of Oneword". UBC Media Group. Retrieved 2008-01-11.
- "UBC Media Group - Press Release on buyout by GNET". UBC Media Group. Retrieved 2008-05-08.
- "GTN announces definitive agreement to acquire Commercial Division of UBC Media". GTN. Retrieved 2009-03-12.
- "UBC Pulls Out of MXR Digital". Radio Today. 21 June 2010. Retrieved 21 June 2010.
- "UBC Media Group - Press Release on closure of Cliq". UBC Media Group. Retrieved 2008-06-11.