TF1 reports revenue gain, profit drop

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PARIS - French broadcaster TF1 Group on Tuesday reported a profit of €172.3 million ($220.87 million) for the first nine months of the year, marking a 4.9% drop over the year-ago period despite higher revenue.

France's largest TV group posted a 5.8% revenue gain to €1.89 billion ($2.42 billion).

At the flagship TF1 network, advertising revenue grew by 3.8% to €1.22 billion ($1.56 billion) thanks to widespread public interest in the Soccer World Cup in June and July in addition to strong performances by U.S. TV import "CSI," French TV drama "Marie Besnard L'empoisonneuse" and hit film "Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl."

However, programming costs for the popular World Cup contributed to a 20.1% decrease in the group's nine-months operating income to €194.5 million ($249.4 million).

TF1 didn't break out quarterly figures, but based on previous financial reports, third-quarter profit came in at €800,000 ($1.03 million), with operating profit amounting to €14.3 million ($18.4 million).

The group's cinema division, TF1 Films Production, attracted huge audiences for such recent co-productions as "Les Bronzes 3: Friends Forever," "The Valet" and "Jean-Philippe."

Revenue from other businesses reached €662.4 million ($849.1 million), an increase of 9.6% thanks to profitable partnerships in the media sector.

TF1's collaboration with Neuf Telecom earned the company the top spot among French Internet sites and it also engaged in joint ventures with Bouygues Telecom (TF1 Mobile), Planete Media (Cote Momes magazine) and Turkish TV operator Dogan TV (home shopping business).

Revenue for TF1's combined thematic channels rose by 10% to €112.6 million ($144.4 million) thanks to positive results from its cable and satellite coverage Mediacabsat in addition to a rapidly expanding DTT coverage reaching 65% of the French population.

The TF1 Group also has been branching out in to the audiovisual rights sector. In October, the Group's video on demand unit TF1 Vision signed a deal with Buena Vista International TV to offer myriad catalog titles to its public. The group's international broadcasting activity was high, including the launch of new channel Eurosport World in Asia and Australasia, the broadcast of the Turin Winter Olympics and the launch of Web site surosport.sohu.com in China.

As of Sept. 30, TF1 Group's net debt totaled €416.6 million ($534.15 million). Capital gains resulting from the anticipated TPS-Canal Sat merger will be included in the fourth-quarter consolidated financial accounts report.
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