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Packer piling up profits

Earnings for the year jumped by 42% to $228 mil

SYDNEY– Australian paybox Foxtel is still mired in red ink but part-owner Kerry Packer is reaping profits from several channels on the platform.

Packer’s Publishing & Broadcasting Ltd. said Thursday it incurred a loss of $A16.5 million ($9.9 million) from its 25% stake in Foxtel in the year ending June 30.

That was offset by a profit of $9.6 million from its 50% holding in the Fox Sports channels (in which it’s partnered with fellow Foxtel investor News Corp.) and undisclosed profits from Sky News Australia (one-third owned by PBL).

PBL’s net profits for the year jumped by 42% to $228 million on revenues of $1.6 billion.

PBL’s Nine Network, magazine empire and Crown Casino all contributed strongly to the result. Nine’s stations in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane won all 26 weeks of the 2003 ratings season, lifting the web’s market share from 38.6% to 40.2%.

The introduction of digital services next year will hit Foxtel’s earnings in the short term but PBL chairman James Packer said the transition will improve its profitability in the medium term.