M6 profits soar in 2006


PARIS -- French commercial broadcaster M6 saw its profits soar in 2006, logging a net profit of €408.5 million ($535.9 million) and an 18.8% revenue increase to €1.28 billion ($1.68 billion).

Thanks to the media giant's recent sale of pay TV group TPS, its full-year advertising revenue increased 3.9%. Web profits were up a moderate 0.8% to €152 million ($199.4 million), not including the €256.8 million ($336.9 million) from its stake in TPS, which comprises its share of TPS revenues for the first 8 months of 2006 in addition to money earned from the sale itself.

Operating profit also rose slightly to €223 million ($292.5 million), compared with €221.1 million in 2005. That served to counterbalance significant investments in both the channel's programming grid and in digital terrestrial TV technology.

The M6 network, which celebrated its 20th birthday Tuesday night with a special primetime event, contributed €183 million ($240.1 million), down from €201.3 million in 2005, which M6 attributes to a 17.1% growth in programming costs, mostly from the 31 World Cup matches it broadcast.

Group Equity amounted to €800.2 million ($1.05 billion), with a net cash position of €197.7 million ($259.4 million). M6 plans to pay out a €0.95 ($1.25) dividend per share to stockholders, and begin a buy back of up to 10% of its stock over three years.