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Last Updated: Wednesday, 8 September, 2004, 12:32 GMT 13:32 UK
Pop music sales boost Bertelsmann
Bertelsmann head office
Bertelsmann's TV and music businesses drove profits higher
Bertelsmann, the world's fourth-largest media company, has seen profits surge during the first half of 2004.

Operating profit before interest and tax was 596m euros ($721m; 406m) in the six months through June from 186m euros a year earlier.

The music and television businesses were the main drivers of growth, recovering from last year's slowdown.

Hits from artists including Dido, Usher and Britney Spears lifted sales, while Spain saw strong advertising growth.

Earlier this year, Bertelsmann merged its music unit with that of Sony, creating Sony BMG.

While costs from the merger may dent earnings in the short-term, the company said it expects the benefits to boost profits going forward.

Music sales across the industry have been hit by a rise in illegal downloading of tracks via the internet and analysts said this explosion in web-based music piracy was one of the factors behind consolidation.

Bertelsmann said that earnings in the first half of last year were unexpectedly low, further boosting this year's rebound.

With sales of 8.1bn euros in the first half of 2004, Bertelsmann said it was back on track and ready to expand into new markets.

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