Mediaset reports revenue rise, profit drop

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ROME -- Italian broadcast giant Mediaset on Tuesday reported a slight rise in revenue and a drop in profits and revealed that it will increase the role played by deputy chairman Pier Silvio Berlusconi, the son of former prime minister and leading Mediaset shareholder Silvio Berlusconi.

According to the company statement, Mediaset's revenue inched up to €964.9 million ($1.31 billion) over the first three months of the year, compared with €955.2 million ($1.3 billion) over the same period in 2006. That increase came from Mediaset's holdings in Spain, where increasing market share for the company's Telecinco unit helped revenue grow to €251.1 million ($341.5 million) in the first quarter, compared with €227.8 million in the year-ago period.

But despite the mild rise in revenue and a 1.2% year-to-year reduction in television-related costs, the company's overall profits trended downward, totaling €255.7 million ($347.8 million) in the first quarter, down from €265.6 million over the same period in 2006.

In its forecast for the remainder of 2007, Mediaset said it expects ad revenue to continue to erode in Italy but for the rate of decline to slow. It expects revenue in Spain to continue its rise.

The company did not elaborate on the nature of the increased powers for the younger Berlusconi, saying only that the "broadening responsibilities of Pier Silvio Berlusconi is a response to the need to face a number of challenges in terms of content, technology (and) advertising sales, and to take advantage of new opportunities in Italy and abroad."

The company released the information Tuesday after the market closed, with Mediaset shares up 1.3% on the day in moderate trading.
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