Dire consequences for film and TV production

MADRID — In its worst result for years, Spanish TV advertising revenues plunged 9.5% to €2.2 billion ($3.0 billion) in 2011, vs. 2010, according to a report by Madrid consultancy InfoAdex.

The slide won’t stop. TV advertising market will plummet about 5% more in 2012, said an analyst.

This dire degradation will trickle-down to both film and TV production — very likely prompting broadcasters to turn ever more to low-cost and cost-effective imports.

Encompassing movie theaters, press, radio and TV, Spain’s total ad market tumbled 6.5% to $15.8 billion in 2011, the lowest result since 2003.

Worst hit of TV operators were Spain’s regional pubcasters. Their ad revs dived almost 30% after some lost flagship slots such as Formula One sportscasts in drastic austerity measures.

After anti-trust diktats forbade their advertising to be sold by Spain’s big broadcasters, Spain’s smaller DTT channels also lost ad clout: one, Veo 7, owned by Italy’s RCS Media Group, suffered a 48% ad rev crash to $16.6 million in 2011.

Mediaset Espana and Antena 3, Spain’s biggest broadcasting groups, punched profits last year, of $148.1 million and $125.2 million respectively.

But their ad revs were down, 12% at Mediaset Espana to $1.3 billion. Given the two are obliged to invest 3% of annual sales into Spain’s film production, both will be funneling less coin this year.

Broadcasters are subjecting original shows’ profitability to intense scrutiny. For cash-strapped operations, low cost imports will increasingly prove more attractive, one analyst said.

Emiliano de Pablos contributed to this report.

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