Taxes, prod'n costs trim Azteca income


MEXICO CITY -- TV Azteca, Mexico's No. 2 network, said Tuesday that its third-quarter net income dropped 21% as higher taxes and rising programming and production costs cut into earnings.

The Mexico City-based broadcaster posted a net profit of 408 million pesos (about $37.7 million), down from 520 million pesos a year ago.

Azteca's quarterly net sales came in at 2.4 billion pesos, on par with the same period a year ago. Mexican networks took in a windfall in ad revenue last year from broadcasts of World Cup soccer matches; however, Azteca claimed that the lack of extraordinary advertising sales did not affect third-quarter results thanks to a jump in commercial audience share.

"We were able to match the sales level from the prior year, despite the absence this year of revenue related to the final stage of the 2006 World Cup and Unefon (Azteca's cell phone unit) sales," TV Azteca CEO Mario San Roman said.

Programming exports doubled from 13 million pesos ($1.2 million) to 26 million pesos ($2.4 million), driven by sales of telenovelas "Mientras Haya Vida" and "La Vida es una Cancion."

Azteca America, the company's wholly owned U.S. Spanish-language network, said sales increased 7% to 137 million pesos ($12.65 million). Azteca America ranks a distant third behind market leaders Univision and NBC Universal's Telemundo. Azteca America has made a bid to purchase Los Angeles indie station KWHY-TV, currently owned and operated by Telemundo.