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NBC profits up 13%

Ad sales lift web's digits

Stronger-than-expected upfront advertising sales at NBC and double-digit ad sales gains at its local stations helped boost NBC Universal’s operating profits in the second quarter by 13% to $607 million.

“Overall, this was a pretty solid quarter for NBC Universal,” Keith Sherin, CFO of NBC U parent General Electric told analysts on an earnings call Friday. Revenues were up 5% to $3.7 billion in the quarter.

NBC ratings were down year-over-year in the quarter, but Sherin said executives were happy with NBC’s hit show “America’s Got Talent.” Ad sales at the network were up 18% in the quarter, in large part because of the ability to charge higher rates, said Sherin. Ad sales at the local stations jumped by 25%, versus gains of 15% in the first quarter.

GE executives are pleased by how the regulatory review of the NBC U’s proposed joint venture with Comcast is going, Sherin said, and particularly encouraged by winning recent European Union approval for the combination. GE executives offered few other details about the merger, which may be a precursor to GE’s exit from the media business.

In addition to revenues at cable business channel CNBC being up 9% in the quarter, solid box office results for “Get Him to the Greek” and “Despicable Me” helped drive NBC U’s financials.

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