Mediaset First-Quarter Revenue Rises as Italian Ad Sales Recover

Mediaset SpA, the broadcaster controlled by former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, reported a 9.4 percent increase in first-quarter revenue as advertising sales in Italy showed signs of recovery.

Sales increased to 786.1 million euros ($895 million), the Milan-based company said in a statement Tuesday. Analysts had predicted 792 million euros on average. Mediaset posted a net loss of 18 million euros, including a loss of 56.6 million euros from discontinued operations. A year earlier, the broadcaster made a profit of less than 1 million euros.

Italian advertising sales showed an increase of 4.7 percent in the first four months of the year, strengthening the growth trend recorded in the first quarter, the company said in the statement.

“Given generally and progressively more stable market conditions, the group’s advertising revenues in the first half of the year are expected to remain positive,” the company said.

Mediaset, founded almost 40 years ago, is at a crossroads as it contends with increased competition from the likes of Netflix Inc., which increasingly offers a global, online television service. Italy’s biggest commercial TV broadcaster is cutting costs while boosting spending on programs to keep people watching its channels. Mediaset last month agreed to sell its pay-TV unit to Vivendi SA because competition from Sky Plc is hurting subscriber growth in Italy.

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