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Mediaset

Milan, Italy

Revenue: $2.09 billion

Profit: $221 million

Top Italian commercial broadcaster Mediaset has become the darling of Euro media analysts in the past few months, as it has locked up 60% of the total Italo TV ad market. Despite the generally gloomy European market, its ad revs rose by 0.5% to S2.23 billion ($2.19 billion), limiting the impact of general economic slowdown.

In fiscal year 2001, ended Dec. 31, the TV group controlled by Italian media tycoon and Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, saw profits falling a sharper-than-expected 41% to $243.8 million. However, this was in large part due to a writedown of its 2.28% stake in bankrupt German media group Kirch. The company lays blame on the consolidation of the Epsilon group, Mediaset’s joint venture with Kirch, which ended in 2001.

Nevertheless, Berlusconi’s son and Mediaset vice chairman, Pier Silvio Berlusconi, defined 2001 as a great year for the TV group.

Flagship Canale 5 achieved the highest share in the history of commercial television and for the first time was the leading channel in primetime with an average 24.1% share, beating pubcaster RAI1.

Yet Mediaset cut its 2002 budget for programs and TV rights by 8%. In 2002, produced hours are expected to decrease by 20%, and the primetime fiction budget will be cut by 24% with an extended use of reruns from the Mediaset library.

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