BERLIN — First-quarter revenue at German rights trader EM.TV was up 7% to E51 million ($64 million), while net profit reached $2.9 million, exceeding the company’s initial forecast.

Not counting a hefty $115 million one-time profit from the restructuring of a $575 million convertible bond that boosted first-quarter earnings last year, profit in the first three months of 2005 was up nearly $1.8 million.

Company attributed revenue growth to the marketing of merchandising rights for the 2006 World Cup soccer championship — EM.TV’s sports rights division generated 87% of total sales.

Remaining unchanged from the same period last year, sports accounted for $55.6 million in first-quarter revs.

The difficult advertising market dampened sales at EMTV-owned sports channel DSF, which nevertheless managed to compensate with increased revenue from teleshopping. Company said sales from World Cup merchandising were better than expected.

EM.TV’s entertainment division, meanwhile, doubled its sales to $8.5 million, thanks to sales to TV stations in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, France and Spain.

Operational earnings from the entertainment division swung to $880,000 from last year’s loss of $2.7 million.

Looking forward, company warned the ad market was “still showing no significant upward turn,” adding it would strive for a sales increase of at least a single-figure percentage and a before-tax profit. However, EM.TV said that goal would be subject to startup costs and investments related to a new sports betting and gaming venture it is setting up.