MTG posts profits jump

Sales up 21% to $430 million

AMSTERDAM — Sweden’s Modern Times Group has announced a 219% jump in operating profits to $149 million Swedish kronor ($14.3 million) for the first nine months of 2001. Sales were up 21% to $430 million.

MTG is active across the Nordic territories, the Baltic states, Russia and Hungary. It owns a number of terrestrial TV channels, pay TV platform ViaSat and production company Strix.

MTG CEO and prexy Hans Holger Albrecht said the upturn was due to “(a) balanced revenue mix, which combines a high market share of new digital pay TV package sales, continuing market outperformance in the advertising-led operations and increasing international sales.”

The company’s highlight results were released a week early, MTG said, due to the uncertainty in the financial markets about advertising and recent profit warnings from leading media companies.

Separately, MTG has offered to give its digital terrestrial TV licenses back to the Swedish government. Sweden launched its DTT operations several years ago but it has been beset with problems, among them slow start-up, lack of proper marketing and a dearth of set-top boxes.

In June, MTG asked DTT platform operator Teracom that it wanted to take its channels off the platform, but Teracom reportedly theatened a breach of contract suit if it did. MTG said the offer to give back the licenses to the Swedish government is being made on the condition that Teracom provide MTG with a release from any claims under its previous contract.

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