Profit rises 12% at Spanish broadcaster

MADRID — Spanish broadcaster Telecinco reported Thursday the best 2007 results to date of any major broadcaster in Western Europe.

Only its Italo parent Mediaset, which announces full year financials March 11, has any chance of besting Telecinco.

Net earnings at Telecinco spiked 12.3% to Euros 353.06 million ($533.12 million) off a record $1.6 million sales. Operating profit margins stood at a huge 45%.

“Ad spend in Spain is still growing quite healthily. Historically, Telecinco’s main competitor has been public broadcaster RTVE, but over the last year its audience has collapsed, as has been the case with Antena3 TV,” an analyst said.

Over 2007, Telecinco lead in the ratings chart widened, taking 20.3% in aud share against Antena 3 TV’s 17.4% and TVE 1’s 17.2%.

Telecinco dominated primetime with a raft of fiction series franchises, led by local sitcom “Aida” (averaging 5.2 million viewers) and “CSI Miami” (5.2 million).

An almost purely ad driven TV group, Telecinco will one day need to diversify from its core channel business to tap alternative revenue streams.

In July, Telecinco teamed with Mediaset, John de Mol and Goldman Sachs to pay $4 billion for 75% of Dutch TV giant Endemol.

Telecinco film production division, Telecinco Cinema, scored heavily in 2007, co-producing four pics in the Spanish top 10, led by “The Orphanage” ($36.8 million gross in Spain), Spanish cinema’s second biggest all-time B.O. hit.

But for now, by and large, Telecinco seems content to milk its cash cow. Gross ad revs at core channel Telecinco repped 97% of ‘07 income.

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