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Spain’s Antena 3 posts profit for 1st time

Expansion and profits were the topic of the day for Murdoch/Banesto/Zeta-backed TV channel Antena 3. After a board meeting yesterday , prexy Antonio Asensio announced that ad revenue for the channel was up 73% over last year, although he did not specify exact figures.

Along with this, Asensio confirmed that Antena 3 will for the first time show a profit, in its third year on the air. He recently told Variety the web expected to end the year $ 10 million in the black.

Also, an increase in capital of $ 23 million has been approved for 1993, based on new investments to be financed by the network.

More good news is that the web has gained 5% in all-day channel shares over the last year. Per figures from survey company Ecotel, its share has increased from 10% to 16.4%. Nonetheless, the web still only manages to come in third, after pubcaster TVE-1, with a 31.6% share, and second-place Berlusconi-backed Tele Cinco, with a 20.2% share.

But along with all the good news is a lurking shadow in the background. Major partner Banesto, the bank headed up by financier Mario Conde, has made headlines in the last week for overextension of funds in risky debts.

It is reported that Banesto has responded to a government request from the Bank of Spain to cover the hole as soon as possible to the tune of $ 250 million. The way to cover the hole is by selling off assets, and many of Banesto’s assets are tied up in multimedia companies, such as Antena 3.

Banesto is said to have financed 60% of the $ 100 million takeover of Antena 3 last June. Some observers wonder if Banesto’s woes will affect the web.

But Antonio Asensio’s holding company Zeta is wealthy in its own right, and it would definitely take a while before the coffers are bare.

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