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ProSieben profits rise

German TV group posts $56 mil pre-tax gain

BERLIN — German television group ProSieben Media AG announced first-quarter results Friday, with pre-tax profits for the first quarter up by 20% on last year to 100 million marks ($56.8 million).

Dividends, which were paid out at 60 pfennigs for preferred shares last year, rose to more than 1 mark for 1998.

The company reported that 1997 sales were up $96 million on 1996 to $1.05 billion last year.

Planning for the future, ProSieben said it is still interested in acquiring a third channel and said if offered the chance it would take a share in rival channel SAT1, where the main shareholder is Leo Kirch, father of Thomas Kirch, the majority shareholder in ProSieben.

ProSieben’s finance chief Lothar Lanz said the company would also be interested in taking a share in pay TV channel Premiere if asked to invest.

The future of Premiere is up in the air, with the European Union’s rejection of a merger Wednesday for German media giants Kirch and Bertelsmann, which planned to split the channel 50-50 and merge it with Kirch’s digital pay TV channel DF1.

Kirch previously threatened to scrap DF1 if the merger was vetoed and is considering putting in another application at the EU.

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