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Telefonica rings up again

Profits hit record $1.76 bil, Via adding subs

MADRID — Giant Spanish telco Telefonica announced record net profits for 1999 of Pta300.3 billion ($1.76 billion).

The 38% hike over 1998 profits was driven largely by Telefonica’s cell-phone division, Telefonica Moviles, as well as the public flotation of both Telefonica’s Internet company, Terra, and its yellow pages division, TPI-Paginas Amarillas.

Telefonica’s film and TV subsid, Telefonica Media, recorded vastly contrasting results. Commercial broadcaster Antena 3, in which Telefonica Media has a 49% stake, posted net profits of $122.4 million off revenues of $577.3 million, with the results largely attributable to cost containment and a hike in TV ad revenues.

According to one estimate, digital satcaster Via Digital, in which Telefonica also has a 49% stake, recorded a total loss of $156.1 million in 1999.

Telefonica Media will take heart, however, in the subscription surge at Via, which rose to a declared 440,114 subs, a 56% increase over year-end 1998, powered largely by contracts for the pay-per-view soccer broadcast of the European Champions League and Spanish League games.

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