Premiere trims forecasts

Year-end reduced on 2nd-qtr. drop

German pay TV group Premiere has reduced year-end forecasts following a weak second quarter, but buoyed by its recent soccer-rights deal with competitor Arena is predicting strong growth in 2008.

The Munich-based broadcaster trimmed second-quarter losses, booking a net loss of €32.6 million ($45 million), compared with a massive €138.8 million loss in second-quarter 2006. Revenue, however, was down 15% to €229.1 million ($315.5 million).

As a result, Premiere now said it expects to earn €1.04 billion-€1.05 billion ($1.43 billion-$1.45 billion) this year, down from the €1.05 billion-€1.1 billion initial forecast. Premiere has reduced its operating profit forecast for this year as well, targeting an EBITDA of €80 million-€100 million ($110 million-$138 million), below the original forecast of €120 million-€140 million for the full year.

Premiere CEO Georg Kofler blamed the second-quarter drop on uncertainty surrounding the Arena deal. German regulatory authorities blocked the initial agreement between the companies, which would have seen Premiere and Arena jointly market German Bundesliga soccer matches on their respective satellite services.

In a ruling Wednesday, the German cartel office approved an altered version of the deal. Arena will be allowed to sublicense Bundesliga rights to Premiere, but the companies can't cooperate in marketing the games (HR 7/18).
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