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SBS cuts losses by 25%

Revs weak in 1st qtr. but V8 performance a plus

AMSTERDAM — Net revenues at European station group SBS took another beating in the first quarter, but the company reduced its net losses by 25% year on year.

Company, which in 2001 posted losses of $102 million on revenues of $430 million, reported in the first quarter a mere 1% increase in revenues to €107 million ($97.5 million).

It slashed its losses, however, from $24.1 million to $18.1 million.

New channel V8 in Holland pumped revenues, emerging as a top performer in the company’s pack of 11 channels. Net revs for the TV operations increased by 2% to $1.6 million, mainly due to an increase of $5.3 million, or 18%, at SBS’ three Dutch channels. Of that $5.3 million, $3.6 million came from V8. The V8 performance is impressive, because it had historically lost money until SBS took it over less than a year ago.

Operating losses for SBS for the same time period fell 40% to $10.9 million, with station operating cash flow losses dropping 51% to $3.8 million.

SBS CEO Michael Finkelstein blamed “the weak advertising environment in most of our markets” for the pallid revenue posting, but added that the company’s cost control program over the past six months was clearly producing bottom-line results.