Antena 3 profits take big dip

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MADRID -- Spanish media group Antena 3 announced a 38.3% drop in nine-month net profit Tuesday as advertising income fell and costs rose as the group's commercial, free-to-air channel struggled to attract viewers.

While total revenue grew 1.6% over last year to €734.4 million ($1.1 billion), net profit fell to €133.5 million ($192.6 million), less than analysts had expected.

"The Antena 3 Group, in a context marked by an increase in competitors and as a result of its commercial policy, has once again increased its net revenue in the third trimester some 7.3%," the company said.

Antena 3 said advertising sales fell 1% in the nine months to €595.8 million ($859.7 million), with average audience share in the nine-month period diving to 17.7% versus 19.8% a year ago and below its own target of 19%. The figure underscores the channel's ongoing struggle to snag audience attention. So far in October, the channel trails pubcaster TVE (17.3%) and rival commercial network Telecinco (21.8%) with 16.1% of viewers.

The quest for attractive content has raised programming costs 6.9% to €511.5 million ($738 million) for the first nine months of the year, though the rate slowed to 4.7% in the third quarter.

Antena 3 has been hit by the arrival of Spain's two new commercial broadcasters, Cuatro and La Sexta. While La Sexta has snagged the rights to most major Spanish sporting events -- including the professional soccer league -- Cuatro has been successful with its diet of U.S. series.
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