Mediaset may up profits

Company predicted to increase earnings

MILAN — Mediaset will weather the economic slowdown to see profits this year, according to a new analysis of the Italian broadcaster.

The forecast in the leading financial daily Il Sole 24 Ore said the group would post 2008 net profits of more than Euros 520 million ($812 million) compared with Euros 505 million ($789 million) in 2007.

It predicted that sales would rise 5% to Euros 4.3 billion ($672 million), while EBIT (earnings before interest and tax) would be in line with 2007 figures when losses on digital TV were written off.

In terms of strategy, the group would aim to retain primacy in free-to-view TV, while continuing to push other distribution channels and selling on its own content, the report predicted.

In addition, analysts feel that this month’s re-election of Mediaset’s billionaire owner Silvio Berlusconi as prime minister will prove a boon to the company.

Berlusconi, who appears impervious to criticism over conflicts of interest, is known to support new infrastructure investment likely to aid broadcasters.

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