Gallic webs surge

Canal Plus, M6 boast first-half revs boost

PARIS — Reflecting an upswing in the French economy, French pay television group Canal Plus and private network M6 both have reported significant increases in first-half revenues for 1998.

Canal Plus, Europe’s largest pay television operation, announced first-half revs up 22.3% at 7.7 billion francs ($1.3 billion), with subscription revenues rising 21.5% to just under $1 billion.

Part of the jump is the result of the expansion of the group following the acquisition and restructuring of NetHold last year, as well as growth in digital subscriptions in France, Spain and Italy.

Despite the growth, investment in new digital services and the cost of putting NetHold onto a firmer footing are still expected to weigh heavily on Canal Plus this year, possibly pulling the group into the red to the tune of $100 million.

According to a group statement, the core pay TV business in France brought in $718 million, practically the same as this time last year. Digital platform Canal Satellite, however, saw its revenues leap 81% to $125 million.

Meanwhile, France’s youngest television network, M6, continued its run of solid results. The company reported revenues up 17.7% to $288 million with ad revenues leaping 15% to $237 million.

In the past couple of years, M6 has been the only national broadcaster to increase its audience market share and, in terms of profits compared to revenues, is France’s most successful television operation.

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