Spanish Media Companies Post Losses as Ad Revenue Drops Amid Weak Economy

The challenging environment in Southern Europe has been affecting media and entertainment companies in Spain, Italy and beyond.

Madrid – Three of Spain's largest media groups posted first-half losses over the past week due to falling advertising revenue.

Prisa, which owns digital pay-channel Canal Plus and Spanish daily El Pais, lost $226.7 million (171.8 million euros) over the first six months of 2013. Total ad revenue fell 9.3 percent to $339.8 million (257.4 million euros). Most of the decline took place in Spain, while Latin American advertising rose 5 percent.

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All departments except for publishing and education posted losses. Print sales fell 16.7 percent to $83.2 million (63 million euros) and audiovisual production revenue fell 15.7 percent to $16 million (12.1 million euros). Publishing and education sales rose 3.7 percent to $260 million (197 million euros).

Despite the overall negative results, Canal Plus's sales rose 18.3 percent due to television football rights and a 77.2 percent increase in advertising revenue. Subscription sales fell 1.8 percent to $587 million (444.7 million euros). Prisa said its total debt was $4.2 billion (3.2 billion euros).

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Unidad Editorial, which publishes daily El Mundo and sports leader Marca, said its earnings before interest and taxes was a loss of $18.5 million (14 million euros), compared to $459.4 million (348 million euros) at the end of the first half last year. A $540 million (409 million euro) capital increase proved to be decisive to lower losses. Advertising revenue fell 18 percent and print sales decreased 12.4 percent.

Publisher Vocento, which owns around a dozen Spanish newspapers, posted a loss of $10.8 million (8.2 million euros) in the first half of the year, up from 2012 first half loss of $24.4 million (18.5 million euros). While advertising revenue fell 24.5 percent year-on-year, TDT license rental generated $33 million euros (25 million euros), a 5.1 percent increase.