Spanish Media Companies Post Losses as Ad Revenue Drops Amid Weak Economy

Madrid – Three of Spain's largest media groups posted first-half losses over the past week due to falling advertising revenue.

Prisa, which owns digital pay-channel Canal Plus and Spanish daily El Pais, lost $226.7 million (171.8 million euros) over the first six months of 2013. Total ad revenue fell 9.3 percent to $339.8 million (257.4 million euros). Most of the decline took place in Spain, while Latin American advertising rose 5 percent.

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All departments except for publishing and education posted losses. Print sales fell 16.7 percent to $83.2 million (63 million euros) and audiovisual production revenue fell 15.7 percent to $16 million (12.1 million euros). Publishing and education sales rose 3.7 percent to $260 million (197 million euros).

Despite the overall negative results, Canal Plus's sales rose 18.3 percent due to television football rights and a 77.2 percent increase in advertising revenue. Subscription sales fell 1.8 percent to $587 million (444.7 million euros). Prisa said its total debt was $4.2 billion (3.2 billion euros).

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Unidad Editorial, which publishes daily El Mundo and sports leader Marca, said its earnings before interest and taxes was a loss of $18.5 million (14 million euros), compared to $459.4 million (348 million euros) at the end of the first half last year. A $540 million (409 million euro) capital increase proved to be decisive to lower losses. Advertising revenue fell 18 percent and print sales decreased 12.4 percent.

Publisher Vocento, which owns around a dozen Spanish newspapers, posted a loss of $10.8 million (8.2 million euros) in the first half of the year, up from 2012 first half loss of $24.4 million (18.5 million euros). While advertising revenue fell 24.5 percent year-on-year, TDT license rental generated $33 million euros (25 million euros), a 5.1 percent increase.

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