Scandi B’casting tunes record profits

AMSTERDAM — Net revenues for Scandinavian Broadcasting System shot up by $13.4 million, and the group, which owns a string of TV and radio channels across Europe, posted a profit for the first time in three years in its just released second-quarter earnings report.

SBS is 23% owned by the Walt Disney Co. and chairman-CEO Harry Evans Sloan told Daily Variety the improved figures were “due to strong revenue increases at every one of our stations.”

SBS’s share price has been on a roller-coaster ride since the beginning of the year, reaching an all-time low of 13 3/8 in February, when the group reported a net loss of $67.5 million for 1996.

In May, investor confidence began driving stocks up, following the appointments of former chairman and CEO of Renaissance Communications Michael Finkelstein to the SBS board of directors and Edward Karlik, former president and chief operating officer of Renaissance, as Sloan’s chief advisor. Shares are now trading at 25¼ on the New York Stock Exchange, an all-time high for the year.

SBS net revenue in the second quarter rose to $60.8 million, up from $47.4 million a year earlier. Net profit shot up from a loss of $12.5 million in second quarter 1996 to earnings of $2.5 million this year.

The group currently has two affiliate TV networks in Scandinavia: TvNorge, with some 18 local channels, and TvDanmark, with up to nine regional stations, as well as a channel in Sweden, two channels in the Benelux and one in Slovenia.

In June, SBS won a coveted terrestrial license in Hungary, a station Sloan is predicting will be “the crown jewel of the SBS camp. It is the first opportunity we have to become a key player in the most attractive of the central European countries.” Sloan added, “We’ll be the first on the air with a private license.” The new station is set for launch in early October.

For the first six months of the year, revs are also up, to $108.5 million from $88 million in 1996. Net losses for the first six months of the year were $12.6 million, an improvement from the $31.5 million in 1996.

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