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Mediaset profits up 43.4%

B'caster tops analyst forecasts

MILAN — Italy’s top broadcaster, Mediaset, controlled by media tycoon-Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, reported Tuesday positive revenues and profit for its TV operations in Italy and Spain plus rising auds.

Topping analyst forecasts, Mediaset pre-tax profit rose 43.4% during the first quarter to e274.1 million ($324 million), thanks to a strong increase in advertising revenues.

Its revenues increased by 9.5% to $1.01 billion. This result includes Mediaset core Italian business (up 6.7% to $844.13 million) and its Spanish arm Telecinco (up 21.7% to $205.33 million). Advertising sales rose in Italy by 8.1% and in Spain by 21.2%.

The network said that in the first four months of 2004, primetime audience share held by its three Italian channels came in at 45.1%, maintaining Mediaset’s lead over its main rival, pubcaster RAI.

In the January-March period, Telecinco reached a 23.9% primetime audience share, making it Spain’s most-watched TV channel.

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