Satcaster earnings increased last year

HONG KONG — Profits at Phoenix Satellite Television increased by 17% in 2006 to $27.1 million (HK$212 million).

Group, which is the major Mandarin-language broadcaster based in Hong Kong that has partial access to the mainland China market, last year saw News Corp. cut its stake from 38% to 18%.

Revenue inched ahead by only 2% to HK$1.06 billion ($135 million), but net result was boosted by a $1.78 million (HK$13 million) tax gain.

Phoenix prexy Liu Changle said company has solidified the turnaround it achieved in 2004 and now has a business model that “will work very well in the coming years.” News Corp. sale notably allowed China Mobile to become company’s second largest shareholder.

Liu praised the core Phoenix Chinese Channel despite a revenue drop of 4% and said that slide had been more than compensated for by the growth of the Phoenix InfoNews operation. Liu described InfoNews as the “outstanding broadcaster of international news in the Chinese-language market,” and said it enjoyed a 35% increase in revenue.

“Phoenix did extensive reporting on Taiwan, including the mass protests aimed at removing (President) Chen Shui-bian from office, which were rarely mentioned by any other Chinese-language television services broadcasting to the mainland Chinese audience,” Liu said.

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