TV Azteca profits up

B'caster earned $44 mil in July-September quarter

TV Azteca, Mexico’s No. 2 broadcaster, on Wednesday reported a 16% rise in third-quarter profit, fueled by solid revenue growth in Mexico and at its U.S. subsidiary and lower expenditures.

TV Azteca said it earned $44 million in the July-September quarter, up from $37 million in the same period last year.

The broadcaster, owned by mobile telephony and retail mogul Ricardo Salinas, reported quarterly revenue climbed 7% to $213 million compared to $194 million in 2005.

Ad revenues have been fueled by the success of reality singing competish “La Academia 5” and two telenovelas introduced during the quarter, the boxing-themed “Campeones” and remake of Argentine hit “Monte Cristo.”

Revenue at U.S. Hispanic net Azteca America grew 33% during the quarter to more than $11 million, compared to $8.6 million in the same period of 2005, the company said.

Azteca America has been bolstering its corporate ranks Stateside since opening offices in L.A. this summer. The U.S. subsidiary now claims to reach 88% of the U.S. Hispanic market and has been capturing around 5% of primetime auds, although current telenovelas “Amor sin condiciones” and “Amores Cruzados” have been slipping.

TV Azteca’s productions costs have been rising due to expenditures for Azteca America, but costs have have been compensated by savings on administrative costs, the company said.

Topper Salinas in September reached a settlement with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission over fraud charges stemming from a 2003 debt deal where Salinas allegedly earned $109 million at shareholders expense. Salinas agreed to pay a $7.5 million fine without admitting to any wrongdoing.

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