Mediaset Sales Fall as Italian Ad Sales Slip in Sluggish Economy

Mediaset SpA, the media company controlled by former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, posted a 1.3 percent decline in second-quarter revenue as advertising sales continued to slump amid a sluggish local economy.

Sales at Italy’s largest commercial TV broadcaster fell to 892.3 million euros ($974 million) and compared with the average analyst estimate of 896 million euros. The stock fell 1.9 percent to 4.54 euros at 9:30 a.m. in Milan, giving the company a market value of about 5.4 billion euros.

Italian television ad sales declined 3 percent to 1.93 billion euros in the first six months of this year, according to research firm Nielsen.

While the advertising sales trend in July and August looks positive, it remains “extremely difficult” to make forecasts for the full year, Mediaset said.

Matteo Cardani, deputy head of marketing for Mediaset’s advertising unit Publitalia ’80, said on a call that the company has seen “low single-digit” growth in advertising for July and August.

Milan-based Mediaset is cutting costs while boosting spending on programs to lure customers to its pay-TV offering. The broadcaster this week bought three-year Italian TV rights for the Super Bowl and is studying non-exclusive deals with phone carriers to put more of its programs on mobile devices.

Mediaset is “very close” to reaching a commercial agreement with Telecom Italia, Chief Financial Officer Marco Giordani said. The two companies have been discussing a deal that would allow Telecom Italia customers to watch Mediaset Premium content using the carrier’s broadband services.

Second-quarter net income was 23.6 million euros, compared with an 8.1 million-euro loss a year earlier.

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