Mediaset’s profits take a dive in Q1

Results come after Berlusconi lost national elections

Dominant Italo commercial broadcaster Mediaset posted a sharp drop in net profit of E145.1 million ($185.1 million) for the first quarter of 2006, down from $253.4 million a year earlier, due to higher operating costs.

The results, in line with analysts’ expectations, come exactly one month after controlling shareholder Silvio Berlusconi lost national elections, forcing the TV tycoon-turned-politician to step down as prime minister.

Costs rose to $610.7 million from $518.1 million amid higher expenditures on soccer, content rights and digital TV technology.

Group revenues came in at $1.2 billion, while gross operating profit fell to $616.5 million, as advertising intake from its three channels rose 2.3%, below the group’s expectations.

Possible regulatory changes proposed by the new center-left government could hit the broadcaster’s balance sheet in coming months.

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