Scandal-beset German media company EMTV can see light at the end of its gloomy tunnel.

For the first time in four years the firm has posted a profit, with ceo Werner Klatten announcing net 2004 gains of €43.9 million ($56.3m, £30m) on sales of €206.6m.

EMTV, which now focuses on merchandising and sports programming through its DSF channel and internet portal Sport1, is also preparing for a lawsuit against three former directors who allegedly mismanaged the purchase of a stake in motor racing business Formula One in 2000. The stake had to be sold later for substantially less.

The company was founded in 1989 by Thomas Haffa, based on a small offering of children's programming. By 2000, after a spectacular acquisitions spree and a dramatic crash on the German stock exchange, it had amassed losses of €2.8 billion.

Haffa and his brother, Florian, were subsequently fined $1.4m for "presenting numbers that were crassly false and severely shook investors' trust in the German market".

The pair, together with former chairman Nickolaus Becker, are now being pursued through the courts by EMTV's current board for €200m compensation over the Formula One deal.

Says Klatten, who has drastically restructured the company since he came on board in September 2001: "In 2004 we finally left the past behind us." He expects further growth this year and another profit.

Data sourced from Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung; additional content by WARC staff