The Spelling Entertainment Group on Tuesday reported a net loss from continuing operations of $18.1 million or 20¢ per share for the third quarter ended Sept. 30.

The $18.1 million loss, due mainly to the direct-to-video rental business, far exceeds the net loss of $730,000 or 1¢ per share for the third quarter last year. Spelling recently decided to license its homevideo rental titles to Par and to focus the company’s efforts on TV and international sales and distribution of films.

The loss excludes results from Virgin Interactive Entertainment, which has discontinued operations.

Spelling also posted revenues of $108.5 million, a 3% decline in revenues from $111.6 million for the third quarter 1996. Spelling’s loss before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (cash flow) was $5.8 million, an increase from the $179,000 loss during the same quarter last year.

The losses from direct-to-video rentals were partly offset by gains in TV. The TV units, including Spelling TV, Big Ticket TV and Worldvision Enterprises, reported revenues of $93.3 million, up 2% from the prior year. However, the TV cash flow of $6.5 million was 39% below the third quarter 1996, mainly because of the sale of off-net “Melrose Place” to cable during the third quarter last year.

The feature film operations reported third-quarter revenues of $12.2 million, down 29% from last year. The loss before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization was $8.9 million, up from the $5.9 million third-quarter loss in 1996.

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