SYDNEY, April 9 (Reuters) - Troubled Australian broadcaster Ten Network Holdings fell deep into the red in the first-half, blaming a poor advertising market and a large TV licence impairment charge.
Ten, the country’s third-ranked network, has been struggling to find hit shows and has lost market share to top-ranked competitor Seven Network and the Nine Network.
It made a net loss of A$243.3 million ($253 million) for the first half ending Feb. 28, compared with net profit of A$14.8 million a year ago.
“It is not clear when we will see a marked improvement in trading conditions,” Chief Executive Hamish McLennan said in a statement. McLennan was just appointed on Monday.
The network, which counts some of the country’s richest people - including mining magnate Gina Rinehart - among its top shareholders, booked one-off charges of A$304.0 million. That included a television licence impairment charge of A$292.1 million. Further details about the impairment charge were not immediately available.
All Australian print and television networks are facing a tough market, with advertising depressed by weakness in consumer spending and by intensifying competition from the Internet.
“The free-to-air television advertising market is at a low point of its growth cycle, and that the company is at a low point in the cycle of its share of that advertising market,” Ten said.
It cut television costs by 10.6 percent to A$247.0 million in the first half. Its full-year television costs guidance remains at A$560 million, compared with reported 2011-12 television costs of A$595 million.
Ten shares jumped 3.4 percent to A$0.31 after the results. They have nearly halved in value over the past year.
The company has been raising capital to pay down debt. Its net debt was A$1.2 million as of Feb. 28, a reduction of A$262.0 million from six months earlier.
$1 = 0.9602 Australian dollars Reporting by Maggie Lu Yueyang; Editing by Edwina Gibbs