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ProSieben sees ’04 earnings triple

Broadcasting group's profits grow to record high

BERLIN — Haim Saban’s ProSiebenSat 1 broadcasting group saw bottom-line earnings triple last year to E133.6 million ($174 million) and pretax profit grow by $207 million to a record $288 million.

“We’ve generated the best pretax profit in our history,” said ProSiebenSat 1 CEO Guillaume de Posch. “That’s something to be very pleased about, especially given the slowdown of the advertising market in the second half of last year. We’ve more than achieved the goals we set ourselves for 2004 a year ago.”

Company attributed the positive results to higher advertising revenues and rigorous cost cutting. Revenue was up 1.5% to $2.4 billion following a three-year decline, signaling a slight recovery in the advertising industry.

ProSiebenSat 1 also announced its intention to take over the lucrative interactive TV group Euvia Media, which operates call-in quiz channel Neun Live and travel web Sonnenklar. Euvia is 48.4% owned by ProSiebenSat 1 and 48.6% by Barry Diller’s Home Shopping Network; Neun Live topper Christiane zu Salm owns 3%.

Acquisition, valued at north of $130 million, is part of the group’s efforts to cut its dependency on advertising.

Company is planning on launching pay TV channels on German cabler Kabel Deutschland this year, a move that could hurt paybox Premiere, so far Germany’s only digital pay TV platform. Premiere is gearing up for an initial public offering next month.

ProSiebenSat1 cut programming investments by $246 million to $1.2 billion in 2004. Company said current film deals ensured a regular programming supply for its channels for the next few years.

ProSiebenSat 1 owns four commercial channels, ProSieben, Sat 1, Kabel1 and 24-hour news web N24, all of which brought in higher revenues.

The positive news boosted ProSiebenSat 1’s stock price more than 4% to $19.60.

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