Telcoms, internet ads help French TF1's profits jump

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PARIS -- Leading French TV station TF1 has reported strong financial results for 2000, with ad revenues growing by more than 16% to $1.45 billion, and net profits jumping 58% to $230 million. TF1 attributed the excellent results to stronger-than-expected ad spending -- particularly from telecommunications and Internet firms -- and its lockhold on French audiences. TF1 garnered an overall 33.4% audience share during 2000, far ahead of state-owned FR2 and FR3, which recorded overall audiences of 22.1% and 16.8% respectively, according to year-end ratings information from media monitor Mediametrie. TF1, owned by French construction and communication giant Bouygues, was practically always the winner in head-to-head battles with its state-owned and private sector rivals, recording more than 90% of the top-rated programs and special events of the year.

After two years in which ad revenues grew by a cumulated 28%, TF1 is predicting a slight slowdown in 2001, but nonetheless predicts its ad growth will exceed that of the overall TV market. Specialized cable and satellite channels, which include pan-European sports giant Eurosport, general programming newcomer TF6 and leading French all-news outlet LCI, comprised 30% of TF1's overall revenues in 2000, and should also see ad revenues that grow faster than the market rate, the firm said.

Internet operations remain a low-key element of the balance sheet, providing scant revenue, but serve to reinforce TF1's image and reputation as an entertainment and news leader. The flagship Web site -- -- is the French news media leader, while a new joint venture banking, financial services and news portal site under development with leading French bank Credit Agricole is likely to grow the network's notoriety and Internet ad revenues.

Copyright March 2001, Crain Communications Inc.

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