Upturn may come by June, says company

MILAN — Mediaset, the broadcaster controlled by Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, saw its advertising revenues fall 12% in the first quarter.

The group’s advertising chief Giuliano Adreani confirmed on Wednesday that the sharp falls in ad revenues seen in the first two months continued in March, but he hinted that some positive signs were now emerging.

“April, May and June will probably be better than the first three months of the year,” he told reporters at the annual shareholders meeting.

Analyst Alessandro Bai-Badino of Deutsche Bank said there were some grounds to be upbeat. “Things are tough, there’s no getting around that. But the truth is, there are broadcasters and media companies enduring tougher conditions in other parts of Europe.

“Also, Mediaset is making noises that from April things might be improving a little.”

During the meeting Mediaset chairman Fedele Confalonieri confirmed that the company’s Spanish Telecinco division was not engaged in merger or acquisition talks, but was, nonetheless, looking at the market “with interest.”

He said Spain’s Cuatro and La Sexta were “two possibilities to rationalize competition.”

Meanwhile, renewed market rumors that Mediaset might be interested in buying ITV, saw the share price of the ailing Blighty broadcaster soar 12%. Neither Confalonieri nor ITV would comment on the speculation.

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