PRAGUE: Central European Media Enterprises reported a 7 percent decline in net revenues to 146.6 m USD and 10 percent decline in TV advertising revenues during the first quarter of 2019. Operating income increased by 12 percent to 27.7 m USD.
The company, which operates 30 TV stations in Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia, also saw a four percent increase in carriage fees and subscription revenues. At the same time, the company paid down 60 m USD in debt.
Michael Del Nin, Co-Chief Executive Officer, commented: "The year has gotten off to an outstanding start, exceeding our previous expectations to such an extent that we are raising our guidance for 2019. With the highest Q1 margin in more than a decade, an 18% improvement in like-for-like OIBDA, and a more than 30% surge in unlevered free cash flow, these are among the best Q1 results in the history of the company. Furthermore, they are bolstered by around 20% growth in TV ad revenues in our two largest markets in April, pushing year-to-date sales well into positive territory after the first quarter was impacted by both sector taxes in Romania and the phasing of spending related to the timing of Easter this year."
Christoph Mainusch, Co-Chief Executive Officer, added: "With the successful launch of the spring season during the first quarter, our main channel in four countries increased year-to-date audience share in both prime time and all day. Carriage fees have transformed the predictability and profitability of several of our businesses, with four segments now seeing margins of more than 25% in Q1. Facing various headwinds in the quarter, we grew our TV ad revenues in three segments, and we increased market share in four of five countries."