Co. reports channels nearly sold out of ad time

Finland’s largest commercial TV outfit MTV3 and its spinoff Subtv nearly sold out advertising in the second quarter, helping to push operating profits up 33% to the highest ever recorded by Alma Media.

Alma Media, second-largest media outfit in the territory, was created via the merger six years ago between the Finnish commercial broadcaster MTV and the 151-year-old print outfit the Aamulehti Corp. Group has been struggling since then to make the merger pay off amid a miserable economic, media and ad climate.

Alma posted second quarter earnings before interest and taxes of E17 million ($21 million), up from $16 million in the same period a year ago. Six-month operating profits jumped to $26 million from $23 million year on year. Net profits in the second quarter rose to $13 million from $10 million and to $16 million from $12 million in the first half.

Divestment from the group of its magazine printing ops had sales dipping to $150 million in the quarter from $154 million and in first half to $285 million from $301 million.

Broadcast division sales, however, kicked up 15% in the quarter, with ad sales rising 11.2% for MTV3 and Subtv. The two channels accounted for 70% of all TV ad time sold in the territory and 60% of the commercial viewing time.

“Essentially, these channels, and especially MTV3, were nearly sold out of ad time,” communications veep Ahti Martikainen told Daily Variety. Six month sales in the broadcast division rose 9% year on year.

Unlike other areas of the Eurozone, the Finnish economy has been buoyed this year by tax cuts, wage increases and accompanying consumer confidence, which has pushed up ad spend.

The numbers in the broadcast division, which has performed remedially for several years, is good news for the Nordic territory’s largest entertainment outfit, the Bonnier Group — Alma’s largest stockholder.

Bonnier has been struggling for the past two years to keep its main two TV properties, MTV3 and TV4 in Sweden, in the black. Revenues were flat and profits down in half-year earnings figures posted by TV4.

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