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Slowdown rocks Granite

B'caster's revenues fall 7.8% to $33.9 million

NEW YORK — Granite Broadcasting Corp. reported Monday that its net loss attributable to shareholders widened 29.4% to $13 million in the first quarter as revenues, reflecting the falloff in Olympic and political advertising, declined 7.8% to $33.9 million.

The ten-station TV group also revealed it has purchased 50% of MyTVShop.com, a TV trivia and e-commerce Web site, from Unapix Entertainment and its co-founder David M. Fox.

While announcing results for the quarter ended March 31, the New York-based company said on a same-station basis ad revenues actually increased 2% .

This revenue increase was attributed to a 23% ad gain at Granite’s WB affiliates, offset in part by a 5% decline at its “Big Three” affils of ABC, CBS and NBC.

Broadcast cash flow (net revenue less station operating expenses) dropped 21.2% to $11.4 million. But here, too, same-station results were more favorable: Broadcast cash flow dropped 7.8% to $11.4 million. And once Olympic and political spending are discounted from the year-earlier period, it actually rose 9.2% to $11.3 million.

Long-term debt was up 10.9% from the year-earlier period, totaling $423.6 million.

Granite’s share value rose 7.4% on Monday to close at $8.12 a share.