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Comedy pays big for Yoshimoto

Earnings up 7.6% from previous year

TOKYO — Yoshimoto Kogyo, Japan biggest talent shop for TV comics, reported earnings of 50.1 billion yen ($486 million) for fiscal 2007, up 7.6% from the previous year and an all-time company record.

Yoshimoto, which produces TV shows as well as repping comic talent, was the major beneficiary of a ratings boom for comedy in all forms, from on-air competitions for aspiring comics to comic variety shows hosted by biz veterans.

Also, leading Yoshimoto talent Hitoshi Matsumoto scored a critical and commercial hit with his debut pic “Dainipponjin,” while Hiroshi Tamura’s “The Homeless Junior High School Student” became a bestseller and is being made into a pic.

On the negative side, a failed comic mag biz racked up red ink, pic productions and other new ventures raised staff costs and talent royalty payments for publications and DVDs rose.

As a result, operating profits fell 8.6% to $57.3 million, the first drop in five years. After-tax profit fell 7.2 % to $29 million.

In April Yoshimoto started beaming its own shows via communications satellite, while joining with Yahoo to webcast them.

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