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Mediaset profits up 19.6% to $324 mil

Results come after deal with Kirch

ROME — Silvio Berlusconi’s Mediaset communications group has announced robust financial results for 1998.

Consolidated net profit for the year rose to $324 million, a 19.6% increase for Italy’s leading commercial television player.

Net revenues climbed by 8.8% to total $2.15 billion, and pre-tax profits rose 6.3% to $576 million. A higher dividend has been proposed by the group, with the price per share also increasing by 19.6% over the 1997 level.

“Thanks to these results, we can bring a positive outlook to our investments in Europe and toward the group’s future,” commented Mediaset president Fedele Confalonieri.

Kirch pact

Mediaset recently unveiled elaborate plans for a European television, advertising, production, distribution and acquisitions alliance with Germany’s Kirch Group.

The deal brings together both companies’ assets in Italy, Germany and Spain, which represent two-thirds of the TV advertising billing of continental Europe and a potential audience of 200 million viewers.

Mediaset’s advertising division, Publitalia, closed 1998 with a 48% hike in net profit, which rose to $49.4 million against total ad sales revenues of $2.3 billion. The positive trend has continued into the current year, with ad income for the first quarter up 10%.