Canal Plus rev up 17% in ’97

$255 mil net profit for French media giant

PARIS — French pay television giant Canal Plus has announced a 16.9% rise in revenue for 1997 to 13.6 billion francs ($2.3 billion) and a consolidated net profit of $255 million. The elevated numbers are in keeping with expectations and are largely due to a one-time capital gain of about $500 million linked to the sale of Canal Plus’ stake in German pay TV platform Premiere to Germany’s Kirch Group.

Factoring out the gains from the Premiere deal, and losses incurred in the acquisition of pay television group NetHold, Canal Plus would have had a net loss of about $100 million.

Cost up as profits dip

Operating profits for the year slid to $24 million, mainly due to substantial additional costs linked to the company’s digital platform Canal Satellite. According to a company statement, increased investment in sports programming and the full-year impact of Canal Satellite (compared with only 9 months in 1996) are responsible for the drop. Canal Satellite had a significant jump in subscribers at the end of 1997 and as a result saw recruiting costs rise as well.

Predicts net income

Saying they will consolidate positions in various markets and develop analog and digital subscriber bases during the coming year, the group is predicting net income for 1998, after minority interests and excluding exceptional items to be about the same as 1997. With a projected improvement in earnings in 1999, Canal Plus expects to achieve its net income target of 1 billion francs ($160 million) in the year 2000.

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