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Mediaset suffers historic first loss

European media giant Mediaset suffered a net loss of €287.1 million (US$369 million) last year as effects of the economic recessions in Italy and Spain kicked in.

The Silvio Berlusconi-owned company, which operates market leading channels such as Canale 5 in Italy and Telecinco in Spain, pointed to a combined advertising revenue drop in the two territories of €1.6 billion as a key factor in the loss, which is first year-long fall in its history.

Mediaset’s Italian broadcasting unit lost €307.4 million in the 12 months to December 31, 2012, which compares with a €176.2 million profit the previous year.

Results were slightly better at Spanish broadcasting division Mediaset Espana, which earned €50.1 million in 2012. However, this was down from €110.5 million in 2011.

Consolidated group revenue was down a total of €530 million and came in at €3.7 billion and the €287 million net loss was in comparison with a €225 million profit for 2011.

However, Mediaset claimed its had made cost savings in Italy of €307.2 million, which was €57.2 million more than a previously announced target.

It also claimed to have improved cash generation, lowered its debts “without abandoning investment” and introduced new restructuring measures.

Furthermore, Mediaset remained the leading channel provider in Italy, where Canale 5 was the most popular network with a 16.7% share of all day ratings and an 18.1% share of primetime; and Spain, where Mediaset Espana was the leader in all-day ratings (28.1%) and primetime (27.4%). Telecinco remained Spain’s most watched channel with a 13.9% all-day share.