EM.TV loss widens despite revenue rise

Kidvidder cites slow pay web biz, costs of Tele 5

COLOGNE — Costs far outweighed revenues for German license trader EM.TV, which has posted a first quarter net loss of 30 million euros ($35 million) despite a 61% increase in sales to $80 million.

The kidvidder blamed the shortfall on the weak marketplace, slower business with pay web Premiere, restructuring and the launch costs of terrestrial TV channel Tele 5, operated by subsidiary Tele Munchen.

Rise in revenue was attributed to EM.TV’s $37 million sale of Jim Henson Co. properties to Sesame Workshop — a deal signed in December 2000 but monetized in January. Transaction, however, had no impact on profits. EM.TV recently sold the Muppet-making Jim Henson Co. back to the Henson family for $89 million after buying it for $680 million in 2000.

Excluding these extraordinary items, revenues in the first quarter fell 20%, while net loss rose from $29 million in the first quarter of 2002 to $35 million.

Sold Constantin stake

EM.TV recently sold its stake in German film producer Constantin to Swiss distrib Highlight Communications; that will figure in second-quarter results.

Company has also beefed up acquisitions, including former Kirch Media sports production company Plazamedia and the Kirch sports web DSF, the latter jointly purchased as part of the KarstadtQuelle consortium that edged out Haim Saban. Rainer Huether, EM.TV sales and marketing chief, has been appointed managing director of sports web DSF.

EM.TV also announced a change in its supervisory board, with Andreas Meissner replacing Ralph Wollburg.

Meanwhile, fellow cash-strapped kidvidder TV-Loonland blamed the war in Iraq and the advertising slump for its first-quarter loss of $1.06 million, down from a profit of nearly $700,000 a year ago. Sales fell 63% to $4 million.