TV group warns of lower profits for 2001

MILAN — Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s TV group Mediaset went into the red in its third quarter and on Tuesday warned investors its full-year profit would be lower than in 2000.

However, the group controlled by billionaire Berlusconi’s personal holding Fininvest, said its three terrestrial analog channels, Canale5, Italia1 and Rete4, hit a five-year record with a joint 43.3% share.

Mediaset posted a $12 million pre-tax loss in the third quarter, compared to a $14 million profit in the same period last year, “due to the economic effect of a writedown of our stake in mobile phone company Blu,” according to a statement.

From January to October, earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization were up 2.5% to $881 million, while pretax profit eased to $384 million from $480.8 million and advertising revenues rose 2%.

Bullish on advertising

“Considering the way the second half of this year is going at the moment, we can consider that the full-year television advertising revenues will be slightly higher than in 2000,” the company said.

Mediaset had previously said it expected advertising revenues to rise in 2001, despite a global economic slowdown in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in the U.S.

However, Goldman, Sachs earlier this month forecast that Mediaset’s advertising revenues would fall 0.2% in 2001.

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