Radio a drain but Vatican still in black

Holy See finances were in the black again in 2005 to the tune of $16.5 million in the best result for eight years - despite the heavy cost of Vatican Radio which ate up $40 million last year.

ANSA reports that despite the lost, the radio network has no intention of broadcasting adverts even though the media operation weighs heavily on Vatican accounts, officials said yesterday.

Vatican Radio, which employs 200 journalists and transmits in five continents, does not have the right sort of audience to broadcast advertising, network chief Fr Federico Lombardi said.

He was speaking during the presentation of Vatican accounts, which showed that Vatican Radio soaked up $40 million in 2005 and generated virtually no revenue.

"We won't bring in adverts," said Fr Lombardi, who has just taken on the job of chief Vatican spokesman as well as that of head of Vatican radio and TV.

Vatican Radio has long been a drain on the Holy See's finances but its existence is never questioned because it is seen as playing a crucial role for the Church by spreading the words of the Pope around the world. Despite the financial drain from radio broadcasting, the Vatican's consolidated accounts for 2005 were in the black by $16.5 million dollars, compared to $5.3 million the previous year.

"This is the best result for the last eight years," said Cardinal Sergio Sebastiani, head of the Vatican's economic affairs department.

The improvement was largely the result of the positive conditions on financial markets last year. Financial investments produced a surplus of $43.3 million, compared to just $6.1 million in 2004.

Among the key outgoings for the Vatican were the funeral of John Paul II and the conclave to select his successor. These two events cost $11.9 million dollars, figures showed. Cardinal Sebastiani said that these costs were partly offset by a higher number of visitors to Vatican museums. Numbers rose from 3 million to 3.8 million, more even than during the Church's Jubilee Year of 2000.

Vatican Radio rules out adverts (ANSA 12/7/06)

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Vatican Radio
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Holy See Budget back in black (CathNews 13/7/05)
Vatican budget in red, but church offerings up (CathNews 8/7/04)

Despite papal transition, Vatican shows $12 million surplus for 2005 (Catholic News Service 12/7/06)
Vatican Announces (Money Central 12/7/06)

13 Jul 2006