Family buoys MTM’s sheet

NEW YORK — Strong growth from the Family Channel offset increased production deficits at MTM, allowing Intl. Family Entertainment Inc. to show 1% growth in net profit in the first quarter to $4.7 million on 30% higher revenues of $97.1 million.

At 68.6 million U.S. households, the Family Channel’s audience reach is 6.2% higher than a year ago, which translated to higher advertising rates and increased subscriber fees. All up, the Family Channel’s revenues rose 22% to $69.7 million, and operating income — before interest and taxes — rose 26.4% to $27.6 million.

But IFE production and distribution division MTM has been ramping up its activities since last year, dramatically increasing its production deficits. The division’s operating losses trebled to $10.5 million in the quarter, more than wiping out the Family Channel’s gains.

IFE’s earnings were cushioned by a decline in losses at the company’s international networks, which were restructured last year in a deal with U.K. company Flextech Plc. Operating losses for the international networks dropped to $465,000 in the quarter from $3.6 million a year ago.

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