Spain's thriving television sector, set to grow exponentially in the next year, is proving its potential with recently published, landmark year-end financial results, which place private networks Telecinco and Antena 3 among Europe's most profitable.

Calling itself "the most profitable commercial broadcaster in Europe" for the second year in a row, Telecinco posted profits of Euros154.7m in 2000, a 40% rise over 1999 and an amazing112.6% over 1998.

Competitor Antena 3, which struggled last year for audiences against the phenomenal success of Telecinco's Spanish-version of Big Brother (Gran Hermano), itself posted profits of Euros137.7m, a 13.9% improvement over the previous year.

Despite their continued protests against competition for advertising from public broadcaster Television Espanola (TVE), both Antena 3 and Telecinco posted increased revenue from publicity. The broadcasters have expressed serious concern for the rise in competition for advertising and content when Spain's two new national free-to-air DTT operators launch over the next year.

The figures are the highest ever for both networks in 11 years of existence. Telecinco is backed by Italy's Mediaset (40%), Germany's KirchGruppe (25%) and Spain's Grupo Correo (25%) and Grupo Planeta (10%). Antena 3 is 47.4% owned by Telefonica Media and 16.23% by European giant RTL Group.