Central European Media's Third-Quarter Loss 'Unacceptable,' Say Joint CEOs

Adrian Sarbu, former CEO of Central European Media

Longtime head Adrian Sarbu stepped down over the company's poor performance in August, and his two replacements say the $32.4 million loss for the latest quarter calls for further action.

MOSCOW -- The heads of one of Europe's leading commercial TV networks, Central Europe Media Enterprises (CME) Wednesday dubbed Q3 losses "unacceptable" and vowed to improve performance.

CME's dismal figures, which reported year on year losses for the year to date as well as for the third quarter, come just weeks after the company's former long-time head Adrian Sarbu stepped down in August.

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Sarbu's departure was prompted by a series of bad financial results at CME, which runs stations across Central and Eastern Europe in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Bulgaria and Romania.

Struggling to recover from the economic recession CME had sharply increased advertising rates, a move strongly resisted by media buyers, particularly in Prague, where its flagship station, TV Nova, is based.

Wednesday's figures revealed a Q3 pre-tax loss of $32.4 million compared to $3.5 million profit in the same period of 2012, and lower turnover of $135 million compared to $140 million last year.

Figures for the nine months of the year to date were a $46 million pre-tax loss compared with a profit of $64 million for the 2012 comparative period, and turnover of $453 million compared with $518 million.

Michael Del Nin, co-CEO said: "This level of performance [is] unacceptable.

He said he and his fellow CEO Christoph Mainusch were directing all their energy since starting with CME a few weeks ago towards addressing the major reasons for these financial results and making changes to improve them going forward.

Mainusch added: "Our leading audience shares give us a strong advantage over our competition, and we intend to capitalize on this by concentrating our efforts on improving the monetization of our audiences. 

"Improving the performance of our Czech operations is the top priority. We believe that rebuilding our relationships with agencies and clients while protecting price increases achieved during the year is an essential step to improving our competitive position in that market."