German broadcast giant ProSiebenSat.1, majority-owned by the now insolvent KirchMedia, posted a considerable drop in first-quarter earnings as the ad recession showed no sign of abating.

Profits for the three months totalled €5.7 million ($5.2m; £3.6m), down from €16.4m in Q1 2001, on a worse-than-expected 5% fall in revenues to €489.3m. Earnings before tax tumbled 72% to €8.5m.

The biggest headache for ProSieben is its Sat.1 channel, whose losses mounted from €22m last year to €40.8m.

ProSieben chief executive Urs Rohner warned not to expect an ad upturn in 2002. “The first nine months of the 2002 advertising year will be weaker than the same period in 2001,” he declared. “At best, the market will achieve zero growth by the end of the year. At worst, it will contract by up to 5%.”

However, there was some good news for the broadcaster. The combined share of the group’s TV stations rose to 47% of the total German TV market, consolidating its status as market leader.

In addition, Rohner revealed that the stations’ content supply remains secure for the next few years despite the insolvency of KirchMedia, its biggest programming provider.

Data sourced from: Handelsblatt (Germany); additional content by WARC staff