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MTG revs rise while profits slide

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AMSTERDAM — Scandinavian media conglom Modern Times Group posted a half-year 21% jump in net revenues to 3 billion Swedish krona ($299 million) over the same period last year.

But profits slid from $10.5 million to $5.8 million due in part to a weaker ad market and currency exchange losses against the dollar.

The media group owns a stable of 150 companies mainly in the Nordic and Baltic territories, including close to a dozen TV channels and a raft of pay TV outfits, all grouped under its ViaSat Broadcasting division. In its latest move in May, it acquired 75% of the issued share capital in Russian terrestrial commercial channel Darial TV.

MTG’s strongest growth came in its pay TV division, with revs up 38% to $94 million in the first half year. In May, the group turned down Canal Plus’ proposal to merge their Nordic pay TV operations, saying the deal with money-losing Canal Plus Nordic could plunge MTG’s profitable feevee ops into the red.

More digital channels

In a teleconference, MTG CEO Hans Holger Albrecht said he foresaw “no slowdown in the pay TV sector,” adding that more channels would join the digital platform in the near future.

Net sales for ViaSat Broadcasting jumped to $212 million in the first half of the year from $183 million a year earlier. The increase in the pay sector stems from the rise in sales of its premium ViaSat Gold services since last year’s launch of MTG’s digital platform. Company swapped all its premium analog customers over to the digital platform and switched off analog transmission of its feevee channels in May.

MTG’s terrestrial TV division, which includes its trade brand network TV3, posted a tiny loss of 0.5% in revenues, but most of the channels increased market share.

Modern Studios, its production and distribution arm, which houses reality program churner Strix Television, among other companies, increased its revenues to $31.2 million from $22.8 million last year.

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