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Thursday, 7 March, 2002, 16:43 GMT
TV's Millionaire misses the jackpot
Millionaire usa
Big money winners, but the share price has fallen
One of the companies behind TV hit Who Wants to be a Millionaire has seen its share price slump after warning of falling profits from the show.

Avesco's shares fell 30% after the firm said profits at Complete Communications, a company it part-owns, would be much lower than expected.

Complete owns the rights to the internationally-screened quiz show, in which contestants answer a series of increasingly difficult multiple-choice questions in a bid to become a millionaire.

Market analysts said Millionaire was suffering from TV audiences growing tired of the format, but Avesco insisted the show was still performing well.

Chris Tarrant: Show's UK host

Avesco said that while it had reached its maximum potential in some markets, it still had some mileage left elsewhere.

The show is currently being broadcast in 90 countries, and is syndicated to go out on 250 stations in the US in the autumn.

Merchandising from the show, which in the UK is presented by Chris Tarrant, continues to sell successfully, Avesco said.

The board game spent a third year at the top of the UK toy and game charts, but the company said revenue from merchandising licences would be lower for 2001 than expected.

'No disaster'

Complete is one of the UK's leading television production companies - best known through its subsidiary Celador.

Avesco has a 49% stake in the company.

Avesco's chief executive David Nicholson said the market was over-reacting to profit forecasts.

He said: "All this means is that the forecasts were too high.

"It's not disaster business. It generates a lot of cash and we get a good dividend out of it.

"The fact is that the (merchandising) sales were sensational and I understand it is the fastest selling board game ever around the world."

Shares in Avesco ended down 108p at 195p on Thursday, their lowest close for at least five years.

See also:

16 May 01 | TV and Radio
ABC halves showings of Millionaire
19 Jul 01 | Entertainment
Millionaire goes mobile
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