TV Azteca reports poor first quarter

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MEXICO CITY--Advertisers stayed away from TV Azteca in the first quarter, with the No. 2 Mexican broadcaster reporting a 22% decline in revenue.

Azteca's ratings had fallen during 1998, and rival Televisa managed to recoup much of the share it had previously lost. Televisa also finally implemented a new advertising sales plan for 1999 that helped woo clients' ad spend back along with viewers.

Azteca had turned in a disappointing 1998 year-end report in February and warned investors at that time that early 1999 had been difficult.

Azteca's first quarter revenue fell 22% to $91 million from $116 million a year ago. As of the end of the quarter, advertising pre-sales for the year were just $233 million, down from $276 million at the same point in 1998.

Azteca claimed economic uncertainty affected its first-quarter sales and 1999. Noting that monthly sales jumped to $39 million in March from an average of $25 million in January and February, the broadcaster said it expects ad spend to increase steadily throughout the year.

It also said its audience share was recovering, after hitting bottom last year, but cited statistics that compare its two channels to only two of rival Televisa's four, and that exclude the poorest demographic segments.

Copyright April 1999, Crain Communications Inc.

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