Revenue increases 17.5% in first quarter

MILAN — Rebounding ad revenues at Mediaset, Italy’s biggest commercial broadcaster, have boosted net profit in the first quarter by more than 50%.

The company, which is controlled by Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, saw net profit in the first three months rise to Euros 92.9 million ($118 million), as revenue increased by 17.5% to Euros 1.12 billion ($1.42 billion).

Both figures were ahead of analysts’ forecasts. Its ad revenues in Italy rose 5.2% — a trend that senior Mediaset executives predicted would continue through 2010. Mediaset CEO Giuliano Adreani said that the company hoped to close the first half of the year with a growth in Italian advertising sales of 5% or “a little bit more.”

The broadcaster also expects its Spanish interests to post higher ad revenues this year — adding to the impressions of a more positive European outlook.

Last week, Mediaset’s Spanish unit Telecinco announced that first quarter net profit doubled to Euros 58.9 million ($74.8 million) on the back of higher ad revenues.

Analysts were also impressed by the 59.5% increase in revenues from Mediaset’s premium pay-TV operation, which looks set to break even by the end of the year.

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