France’s TF1 reports profits up 47% in ’99

B'caster's video distrib arm had record year with 10 mil tapes sold

PARIS — France’s leading terrestrial broadcaster, TF1, has confirmed a 47% increase in profits for 1999.

In line with forecasts made in late January, TF1 reported Tuesday that profits hit $160 million on revenues of $1.8 billion — an 11.6% increase over the previous 12 months.

Advertising revenue was up 10% at $1.4 billion and estimates are that ad revenues will grow by a further 12% during the first half of this year.

The group’s diversification divisions, which include video distribution, home shopping, music and publishing, recorded a 15.5% increase in revs at $503 million.

Video record

Video distribution arm TF1 Video posted a record year, selling more than 10 million tapes. That pushed revenues up 25% to $107 million and profits for TF1 Video to $7 million.

Under chairman Patrick Le Lay, programming costs for the network have been held down over the past three years. The network’s sked cost $724 million last year, just 1.3% up on 1998. A group statement said the programming budget would rise by 1.8% this year.

All-news service

Of its various cable and sat channels, all-news service LCI now has over 3 million subscribers and has moved into the black. Revs at LCI were $46 million.

The core broadcasting business is as healthy as ever, despite increasing competition from satellite and cable channels and digital platforms. TF1 notched up 95 of the top 100 audiences in 1999, and its market share of the critical women under 50 sector is holding at 37.4%.