Telecom Italia Media surges over nine months

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ROME -- Telecom Italia Media, the media wing of the former state telephone monopoly and the owner of Italy's smallest national television network, saw revenue over the first nine months of the year surge to almost 20% more than during the same period in 2006 thanks to swelling advertising revenue.

The company, which owns the La 7 network plus niche networks MTV and La & Sport, reported revenue of €70.3 million ($102.6 million) over the first three quarters of the year, 19.8% more than at the same point last year. After taxes and write-downs, profits stood at €2.1 million ($3.1 million), 4.6% more than over the first three quarters of 2006.

La 7, Telecom Italia Media's flagship holding, saw the number of viewer hours it attracted surge 21%, increasing its market share to 4.6% from 3.1% in the comparison period.

The news came a day after rival Mediaset reported ad sales were on the rise, though the company was less able to transform the increased revenue into more profits.

Though La 7's market share is still small, it is important because it's the only national network not owned by either Mediaset or state broadcaster RAI.

Despite the strong results, Telecom Italia Media's future is still uncertain. Its parent company was sold to Spain's Telefonica in May and there has been a great deal of speculation that the Madrid-based telecom giant will sell off the Italian broadcast unit in order to focus on the core telephone business.
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