Spain's Telecinco sees profits plunge

As overall group sales fall 9.2% to $1.25 bil

MADRID -- Spanish television group Telecinco maintained its post as the country's most profitable network Thursday despite a 40.2% plunge in net profit for 2008 to 211 million euros ($269 million), down from 362 million euros the year before.

Overall sales -- including advertising, merchandising, Internet, digital and thematic channels -- dropped 9.2% to $1.25 billion.

Net profit jumped to $360 million when $90 million of intangibles associated with the acquisition of Endemol are taken into account, which still would mean a 22% drop in net from the previous year.

Telecinco, which snagged the lion's share of Spanish television advertising revenue at 30.8% of the market, grossed $1.2 billion in advertising in 2008, an 11.1% slide from 2007.

The group reported an 18.2% growth in sales from films rights, merchandising, SMS and audiotext services to hit $114 million in 2008.

In a statement, the group trumpeted its "historic record" of five consecutive years as audience leader for a private channel, with 18.1% of the share in an increasingly fragmented market.

Telecinco shares were down 0.97%, at $6.55 per share, at midday after the announcement.
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