Viva swings to ’02 profit

Company looks to add more European outlets

BERLIN — Last year’s deal with AOL Time Warner helped boost German music TV group Viva Media to a net profit of $922,000 for 2002 after a $31 million loss a year earlier, while revenue grew by $240,000 to $121 million.

AOL TW acquired a 49% stake in Viva Plus (originally known as Viva Zwei) for $32 million. The takeover of production company Brainpool, which has comedy formats on German TV, also helped keep the company profitable, along with cost-cutting measures that included axing 190 of its 770 staffers and selling noncore assets.

Viva saw a slight increase in its foreign ops, including the acquisition of Dutch web the Box, and deals with networks in Lithuania and China for Viva programming. Company, which controls outlets in Switzerland and Poland in addition to its two German channels, Viva and Viva Plus, is planning further expansion in Europe.

“Italy, France, England — if the market allows, we want to enter one of these markets this year,” said Viva chief exec Dieter Gorny, who added that the company is looking to take over Musik Komm, organizer of the annual Popkomm in Cologne, one of the world’s largest music biz trade events.

Company, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, expects to remain in the black in 2003.

(Christian Kohl contributed to this report.)

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