Revs rise, losses double for CME

Euro operator to cut costs on original content

Ron Lauder’s Central European Media Enterprises reported a 148% hike in first-quarter revenues to $119.8 million compared with last year, but saw losses double from $7.9 million to $18.3 million.

The Bermuda-based operator of TV stations in Croatia, the Czech Republic, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Ukraine attributed the red ink to higher expenses. Operating costs rose to $23 million from $11.3 million while programming costs more than doubled to $48.4 million.

However, prexy and chief financial officer Robert Burke said he expected to cut costs on original programming and shared libraries of syndicated series due to synergies across CME’s stations.

Results included TV Nova in the Czech Republic and Markiza in the Slovak Republic, which were not included in the first quarter of 2005.

Terrestrial web TV Nova posted revenues of $40.5 million, the highest of the group, prompting CEO Michael Garin to call it a “powerful engine for growth.”

The Czech Anti-Monopoly office last month ruled that Nova, as a controller of 40% of market share, could not offer advertisers bonuses for boycotting competitor Prima TV.

CME launched Nova in the mid-’90s as the Czech Republic’s first commercial station but lost control to local license holder Vladimir Zelezny in 1999, then successfully sued for $353 million in damages in 2003 and has since bought out the station.

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