French web TF1 profits up 36% for first half

Private net posts $989 mil in revs, up 9.2%

PARIS — Confirming the current health of terrestrial broadcasting in France, leading private network TF1 has posted net profits of $113 million for the first semester, a 36% increase on this time last year.

Revenues for the first six months of 1999 were up 9.2% at $989 million, in line with company predictions made during the summer. The figures include TF1’s 25% stake in digital platform Television Par Satellite (TPS).

TF1’s audience share for the first semester rose a fraction to 35%. In the key advertising target area, women under 50, TF1 reported market share of 38%. The network, whose main shareholder is construction and telecommunications group Bouygues, also boasted 96 of the 100 highest-rated programs for the first half of the year.

Ad revenues up 8.5%

Spurred on by those results and an upswing in the French economy, advertising revenue for the half-year rose 8.5% to just over $724 million.

Income from the company’s diverse assets including music publishing, video distribution, merchandising and home shopping rose 11.4% to $232 million, primarily due to strong video sales of “Taxi” and solid home-shopping business.

Under the chairmanship of Patrick Le Lay, who is due to meet financial analysts in Paris today, TF1 has frozen program costs for the past three years. In a statement released Monday, the company said those costs would probably rise by about 1% in the second half of the year, while ad revenues are expected to grow in line with the first-half results.