TF1 reports first-half profit climb over '06

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PARIS -- French network operator TF1 saw first-half profit climb to €185.7 million ($254.3 million), a jump of more than 8% from the same period in 2006, the company said Tuesday.

Revenue for the first six months of the year climbed 3% to €1.43 billion ($1.96 billion).

Advertising revenue on the group's main channel -- France's leading network, with an average audience share in the low 30s -- was static at €925 million ($1.27 billion).

A year-over-year drop in ad revenue for the TF1 network's second quarter all but wiped out the 6% gain seen in the first quarter. This prompted TF1 to revise downward its forecasts for full-year ad revenue from its previous projection of 6% growth.

"The evolution of the advertising market in the second quarter of 2007 and the high volatility of demand leads TF1 to revise its annual objective," the company said in a statement. "We now expect slight growth in advertising receipts for the TF1 channel over the year."

Most of the increase in group revenue was attributed to the rights-trading activities of movie distribution arm TF1 International and TF1 Video, which saw a climb of 24% to €125 million ($171.2 million).

Overall operating income for the semester jumped 26% to €263.5 million ($360.8 million). The group said that this improvement was due primarily to a 14% drop in programming costs for the period compared with the first half of last year, which included the soccer World Cup.

TF1 shelled out a cool €100 million ($136.9 million) for partial French rights to that tournament, recording a substantial financial loss on the deal but racking up several rating records for the big event, including the all-time biggest TV audience.
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