Recession hits East European TV company

Ron Lauder’s Central European Media Enterprises, which runs a stable of commercial TV stations across Central and Eastern Europe, has reported a 75% drop in profits from $297 million to $75 million for last year due to a steep decline in advertising revenue.

The company’s full-year figures, released Wednesday along with figures for the last quarter in 2009, reflect market conditions across Europe as the global financial crisis unfolded.

Figures for the last quarter of 2009, although worse than 2008, were not quite so bad as the year overall.

Net revenues for the year dropped 30% to $714 million but only fell 14% to $252 million for the fourth quarter compared with the same period in 2008.

CME prexy-CEO Adrian Sarbu remained bullish. In a statement he said, “In this difficult environment we strengthened our operations by maintaining audience share leadership, increasing market share and redefining ourselves as a vertically integrated media company.”

The company has stations that broadcast across territories with a total population of 97 million, including TV Nova in the Czech Republic, Studio 1+1 in Ukraine and Bulgaria’s Pro.bg.

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