RAI nets solid profit in ’97

77$ mil gain marks fourth year in black for Italo TV company

MILAN — RAI, Italy’s pubcaster and largest TV company, which controls three national terrestrial channels and three digital satellite services, unveiled a net profit of 136 billion lire ($77 million) for 1997 compared with $55 million one year earlier.

The gain marked the fourth consecutive year of positive results.

Revenues rose to $2.53 billion in 1997 from $2.33 billion in 1996, and after the complete discharge of the debt achieved four years ago, the web showed a positive financial situation of $255 million.

The positive results came despite an increase in programming costs. Production and acquisition expenses rose by $110 million to $920 million form the previous year.

Advertising revenues grew by $110 million to $960 million.

RAI’s employees have continued to decrease, and in 1997 full time jobs have been cut by 240 to 10,775.

Despite these figures, however, analysts are widely expecting that in 1998 the network will post a net profits decrease. Acquisition investments are expected to rise and production is expected to increase further, with the development of digital platform expected to run RAI in the neighborhood of $160 million.

It also plans to launch more niche services including an all news, CNN style channel.