Satellite and cable ops rise, while ad sales drop

MEXICO CITY — Mexican media conglom Televisa on Thursday said its profits surged nearly 17% in the fourth quarter on growing satellite TV and cable operations, but it warned its upfront ad sales were weaker.

Televisa said it earned 2.84 billion pesos ($260 million) during fourth quarter 2007 compared with $225.4 million in the same period in 2006. Consolidated sales for the quarter were up to $1.14 billion.

However, Mexico’s top broadcaster warned its upfront sales had slipped compared to last year, having received $1.5 billion as of Dec. 31, a 3.2% slip compared with upfront sales in the fourth quarter of 2006.

Full-year profits were down 9.3% to $740.2 million compared with 2006, while year-on-year sales in 2007 were up 5.6% to $3.81 billion. Yearly profits were held down mostly due to higher taxes.

Sales at broadcasting unit were up 5.6% for the quarter to nearly $619 million. Year-on-year sales slid 2.5% to $1.9 billion.

Televisa’s strongest performing segments were satcaster Sky and cable operations. Sky, the conglom’s second biggest revenue stream, saw fourth quarter sales rise 8.7% to $770 million.  Cable operations saw 43% growth during the fourth quarter to $75.6 million as the company integrated revenue from telecom Bestel, purchased in December.

Last year, Televisa launched triple-play services through its Mexico City cabler Cablevision and bought stakes in two other cable companies, aiming to build up a national company offering video, data and telephony.

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