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Viacom quarterly profits jump 38%

MTV recovery leads media network growth

Viacom said Thursday net profit jumped 38% to $245 million last quarter on solid growth in media networks, led by a recovery at MTV – which posted its best-rated quarter in almost two years — narrowed losses at filmed entertainment, and lower expenses.

Revenue dipped 4% to $2.79 billion as growth in affiliate and advertising sales was more than offset by lower feature film revenue.

“With a boost in ratings at our core networks and the advertising market showing signs of strength, our ad revenues moved into positive territory and are continuing that upward trend,” said CEO Philippe Dauman in a statement.

Media Networks saw revenue rise 4% to $1.94 billion for the three months ended in March. Operating income grew 9% to $684 million.

Domestic advertising revenue nosed up 1% and worldwide ad revenue grew 3%. Worldwide affiliate revenue jumped 9%, due mainly to rate increases. Ancillary revenue fell 9% on softer sales of Rock Band music video games worldwide.

Networks include MTV, VH1, Nickelodeon, Nick at Nite, CMT, Logo, Comedy Central, Spike TV, BET and others.

Filmed Entertainment led by Paramount Pictures saw revenue fell 18% to $886 million on a 34% plunge in home entertainment sales. Operating losses for the division narrowed to $86 million from $123 million.

The revenue drop was mostly due to strong sales in the previous year’s quarter of “Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa.” There was no comparable seller this year, although the current quarter did benefit from sales of “Star Trek,” “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen” and “G.I. Joe: The Rise of the Cobra.”

Theatrical revenue fell 6% and television license fees were down 16%.

Paramount opens the summer movie season next weekend with “Iron Man 2,” followed by DreamWorks Animation’s “Shrek Forever After” in 3D and Nickelodeon’s “The Last Airbender” by M. Knight Shyamalan.

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