TF1 profit rises 8%, but ad sales weaker


French network operator TF1 saw its first-half profit climb to €185.7 million ($254.3 million), a jump of more than 8% from the same period in 2006, the company said Tuesday.

Revenue for the first half climbed 3% to €1.4 billion ($2 billion).

Advertising revenue on the group's main channel — France's leading network, with an average audience share in the low 30s — was static at €925 million ($1.3 billion).

A year-over-year drop in ad revenue for the TF1 network's second quarter all but wiped out the 6% gain seen in the first quarter. This prompted TF1 to lower its forecasts for full-year ad revenue from its previous projection of 6% growth.

"The evolution of the advertising market in the second quarter of 2007 and the high volatility of demand leads TF1 to revise its annual objective," the company said. "We now expect slight growth in advertising receipts for the TF1 channel over the year."

Most of the increase in group revenue was attributed to the rights-trading activities of movie distribution arm TF1 International and TF1 Video, which saw a climb of 24% to €125 million ($171.2 million).

Overall operating income for the period jumped 26% to €263.5 million ($360.8 million). The group said that the improvement was primarily thanks to a 14% drop in programming costs for the period compared with first-half 2006, which included the soccer World Cup.

TF1 shelled out €100 million ($136.9 million) for partial French rights to that tournament, recording a substantial financial loss on the deal but racking up several rating records for the big event, including the all-time biggest TV audience.