TF1, France largest free-TV broadcaster, has announced a 58% jump in net earnings for 2000 and remains optimistic for 2001, in spite of a predicted downturn in advertising expenditures this year.

The broadcaster - which grabbed a 53.8% (up from 51.1% in 1999) of the French TV advertising pie last year, saw its net income boosted to Euros231m (from Euros158m in 1999) last year, mostly due to a 16% rise in ad sales, but also to a stronger contribution from its non-broadcasting activities, including its home video arm, TF1 Video. The Video division passed all the US majors last year to end up the top home video publisher in France, with the help of the 2000 chart-topper, French blockbuster Taxi 2, as well as the Pokemon franchise.

TF1's film production offshoot TF1 Film Production, saw its profit rise 50% (on a Euros47.7m income), due to its participation in such hit French titles as Crimson Rivers, Taxi 2 and Jet Set.

Sales and rights trading operation TF1 International has, for its part, seen its sales rise 83.4%, (to Euros70.6m) but still has yet to show a profit. The group, which has been wary of european expansion and a broadening of its non-broadcasting activities on the Canal Plus model (an attempt to team up with major film group Pathe collapsed) is instead concentrating on expanding its cable and satellite broadcasting activities.

TF1 - a major shareholder in digital satellite platform TPS, recently acquired Canal Plus and Vivendi Universal's stake in leading European cable and satellite sport channel Eurosport for Euros345m. The company is also close to clinching a partnership with CNBC -- a unit of NBC which is a competitor to Bloomberg News -- to launch a financial news channel to complement its existing all-nexs channel LCI.