July 29, 2014 / 6:31 PM / 4 years ago

UPDATE 1-Weak Italy revenues push Mediaset into the red in first-half

* H1 net loss at 20.5 mln euros vs net profit of 30.1 mln

* Says Italy advertising market remains weak

* Says not in a hurry for a pay-TV deal (Adds details, comments from conference call)

MILAN, July 29 (Reuters) - Italy’s biggest broadcaster Mediaset reported a net loss in the first half of this year as solid results at its Spanish unit failed to offset falling domestic revenues.

In a statement published after the market closed, the company controlled by former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi reported a first-half net loss of 20.5 million euros ($27.49 million), down from a net profit of 30.1 million euros in the same period last year.

Its consolidated revenues were roughly flat at 1.74 billion, but fell by 4 percent in Italy, where the economy struggles to emerge from a long recession, weighing on TV advertising spending, the group’s main source of income.

The economic situation in Italy made it difficult for the company to give results guidance for the full year, the company said, adding that the domestic advertising market remained weak.

Its Spanish unit Mediaset Espana posted a 58.6 percent rise in first-half core profits last week, helped by rising revenues.

Mediaset has been cutting costs to offset weaker advertising sales and is in talks for a partnership in the pay-TV business where it faces higher costs for TV rights.

Earlier this month the company said it was in talks with Qatari-owned broadcaster Al Jazeera and others on a potential pay TV collaboration.

Still this month, Spain’s Telefonica agreed to buy a stake in the Italian pay-TV business known Mediaset Premium, valuing it at around 1 billion euros.

However, Chief Financial Officer Marco Giordani on Tuesday cooled expectations of a deal anytime soon.

He said with the recently won rights to air matches of Italy’s Serie A top-flight soccer league and for the Champions League, as well as the Telefonica deal, Mediaset was in a better position and could take its time to choose a partner.

“We can decide if we want a partner and if this creates value from an industrial point of view,” Giordani told a conference call with analysts. “We are not in a hurry.” ($1 = 0.7458 Euros) (Reporting by Agnieszka Flak and Claudia Cristoferi, editing by William Hardy)

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