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PRAGUE, April 26 (Reuters) - Broadcaster Central European Media Enterprises (CME) on Wednesday reported a 29 percent rise in first-quarter core profit, boosted by growing television advertising markets and increasing subscription fees.
Operating income before depreciation and amortisation (OIBDA) rose to $22.1 million, topping the average estimate of $19.5 million in a Reuters poll.
Revenue also beat estimates, growing by nearly 5 percent to $135 million.
CME is looking to use growth this year to begin paying down its $1 billion debt pile. After a strong 2016, though, analysts see slower earnings growth this year.
The broadcaster, which operates in six central and eastern European countries, said ad markets increased by an estimated 9 percent at constant rates. It saw higher demand in Romania and increased spending in the Czech Republic, Bulgaria and Slovenia.
Carriage fees and subscription revenue grew 15 percent at constant rates.
"These great financial results, combined with the recent transaction to lower the cost of all of our outstanding debt, have made the first quarter one of significant progress and achievement, causing us to be very optimistic about the rest of 2017," co-Chief Executive Michael Del Nin said.
"We feel confident that we are on track for yet another year of strong earnings growth and significant deleveraging."
CME in March announced a debt repricing deal with its main shareholder Time Warner that cut its weighted average borrowing cost by 150 basis points to 7.25 percent.
The company will discuss the quarterly results later on Wednesday and markets are watching for full-year guidance.
CME reported a 21 percent rise in core profit last year at constant rates. Its shares have risen 33.9 percent in the past 12 months.
Reporting by Jason Hovet; editing by Jason Neely