Ad downturn pushes broadcaster into the red

PRAGUE — Central European Media Enterprises, which owns the largest television network in Eastern Europe, has been hit by drastically reduced ad spending in the first quarter of this year.

The company, which operates stations in the Czech Republic, Romania, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Croatia, Ukraine and Bulgaria, reported a net loss of $44.4 million in the first three months of this year, compared with a profit of $14.4 million in the same period last year.

Revenue dropped 37% to $141.2 million, from $223 million last year.

Liquidity problems have been corrected, however, thanks to the March 23 sale of stock worth a 31% stake to Time Warner, according to CME chief operating officer Adrian Sarbu.

Sarbu called this quarter “the toughest in our history,” but described the Time Warner deal, which also will involve shared content and platforms, “a sign of confidence in our markets, people and strategy for the future.”

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