Alma Media raises net profit

World Brief

AMSTERDAM — Alma Media, parent company of Finland’s biggest commercial broadcasting company MTV3, reported a fat rise in half-year profits thanks to a 50% cut in the country’s commercial operating license.

Alma Media posted a E10 million ($11.4 million) net profit, up from $787,890 in the same time period a year ago.

Consolidated operating profit rose from $7.8 million to $21.5 million, due largely to the license fee cut, although cost control and improved results from associated companies were also credited.

The lower operating license fee in the second quarter cut broadcasting expenses by $5.9 million: profits also rose from $7.3 million year on year to $8.8 million in 2003.

Net sales for the group crept up less than 1% to $276.7 million in the first half of 2003 from $276 million a year earlier, while net sales in the second quarter dropped 2% to $141.3 million, due partly to lower ad sales.

Net sales in the broadcast division were nearly flat for the half year and fell by 4.6% in the second quarter.

Alma CEO and president Juho Lipsanen said there was “still no sign of a clear economic recovery.”

Lipsanen also called for the abolition of the operating license on digital terrestrial TV to encourage players to invest.

Although digital terrestrial TV has launched across the Nordic territories, the uptake has been low.

The Bonnier Group, the largest media group in Scandinavia, owns a 33% stake in Alma.