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Premiere boasts rev boost

Subscriber numbers grow by 12%

BERLIN — Finances continue to improve at German pay TV group Premiere, with a 7.2% hike in revenue to E985 million ($1.3 billion) and a 60% cut in net losses to $105 million in 2004.

The multichannel digital platform increased subscribers by nearly 12% to more than 3.2 million, while overall costs dropped 4% to $1.17 billion. Nevertheless, programming costs grew 5.1% to $652 million, while marketing and sales expenditures rose 11.2% to $181 million.

With Premiere’s initial public offering planned for March, Premiere topper Georg Kofler has been extolling the group’s improvements, calling its newfound success “one of the greatest turnarounds in European media history.”

Premiere continues to make bottom-line losses, but notched its first operating profit (before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization) of $108 million.

Yet its perspectives remain murky as competition from new video-on-demand services and movie channels from German cable companies may hinder its growth.

Losses at Premiere were one of the primary sources of the huge debts that crippled former parent Kirch Group, forcing it into bankruptcy in 2002.

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