Profits boom at Antena 3

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MADRID -- Spanish private broadcast group Antena 3 on Thursday posted record net profits of €289.7 million ($382.9 million) in 2006, a 28.2% jump from the previous year.

Revenue for the group, which owns free-to-air and digital versions of TV channel Antena 3, two separate radio chains, advertising company Atres Advertising and in-theater advertising outfit Movierecord, stood just above the €1 billion mark, while costs were down 0.6% despite a 2.7% rise in the consumer price index. EBITDA rose 0.2% to €348.2 million ($460 million).

The group's television branch, Antena 3 Television, contributed €306.9 million ($405 million) in net profit to the group's results, a 47.9% increase from the previous year, with revenues hitting an all-time high of €869.8 million ($1.1 billion). EBITDA stayed in line with 2005 at €325.7 million ($430 million).

Antena 3 TV finished 2006 in second place in the ratings race behind Telecinco, with 19.4% of the audience share. In a statement, the channel recognized the effect of two new competitors in the television sector, Cuatro and La Sexta.

The channel did maintain its leadership of the family target group, with 22.4% of the audience share, and saw its fledgling digital terrestrial channel Neox lead the tiny new sector for most of the past year.

According to a spokesman for Antena 3, the only department to show losses for the group was event marketing company Unipublic, which lost about €1 million ($1.3 million). The company, which gains most of its income from Spain's cycling race La Vuelta de Espana, was stung by allegations of doping in the sport weeks before the race began.

The spokesman blamed internationally recognized accounting procedures and the consolidation of a capital gain from the sale of the group's treasury stocks for the discrepancy between Antena 3 TV's profits and the group's net figure.

Debt hit €188.3 million ($249 million) due, in part, to an arbitration decision that forced the group's radio chain, Onda Cero, to pay €208 million ($275 million) to a rival chain.
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