TF1 profits rise 19% in first quarter

Programming costs fall 2.5%

PARIS — French TV broadcaster TF1 posted a 19% rise in first-quarter profits to E88.5 million ($119 million) but trimmed its prediction for full-year growth in ad revenue to 6%-8%.

The news nonetheless came as relief to the market. TF1 shares rose nearly 4% on the Euronext market on Wednesday, with one broker saying the market had expected worse results. Shares in the broadcaster have lost more than 7% since the beginning of the year.

Web, which broadcasts many of France’s most popular shows, including “Star Academy” and “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?,” attributed quarterly growth to higher ad revenue and a 2.5% drop in programming costs to $305.9 million, reflecting a fall in the number of fictional dramas produced.

The web forecasts a 3% increase in programming costs this year, excluding major sports events.

The group’s main TF1 TV channel recorded an audience share of 33.8% for the 15-49 age group, up 1%, and a 36% share for women under 50, up 1.6%.

The company, which is owned by the Bouygues Group, named Nonce Paolini, deputy chief exec of Bouygues Telecom, as its new CEO. A close friend of new French president Nicholas Sarkozy, Paolini succeeds Patrick Le Lay, who will stay on at TF1 as non-executive chairman.

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