Changes reaps profits for net

Belgium's VT4 tweaks sked, sees rev rise

This article was updated at 1:00 p.m. PT on July 30, 2003.

BRUSSELS — Belgian Flemish-lingo entertainment channel VT4 turned a net profit of e1 million ($1.15 million) in the first half of 2003. Eight-year-old channel lost $3 million in the first six months of 2002.

Turnover was $29.7 million, up 7% on last year, while operating profit was $1.7 million, much better than the operating loss of $682,000 between January and June 2002.

VT4 execs say the decision to reposition itself to target the 15-44 age group helped boost profits. It has had programming successes like its versions of “Survivor: Expedition Robinson” and “Temptation Island,” both made by Belgian production house Kanakna.

Other series doing well include “The Simpsons” and “South Park,” as well as local fare from Flemish comedians Chris Van den Durpel and Geert Hoste. VT4 also shows 12 movies a week thanks to deals with Columbia TriStar, Disney, DreamWorks, Paramount and Universal.

“We’ve been following a new strategy since new managing director Patrick Tillieux arrived two years ago and it’s great to see our programs at last getting the viewers they deserve,” a spokesperson told Daily Variety.

VT4, which moved from the U.K. to Belgium in March 2002 to be closer to the market it serves, is owned by Nordic-based group SBS Broadcasting.

The Flemish-speaking audience it serves accounts for 2.3 million households or 60% of Belgium’s population. Channel claims to be second-most-watched commercial station in Flanders and is available by cable to almost all Flemish households.

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