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AMC profit jumps 40%

Ad revenue soared by nearly 30%

Beating Wall Street expectations, AMC Networks’ profit surged by more than 40% to $43 million last quarter, led by flagship AMC.

Revenue jumped 20% to $326 million. Advertising revenue soared by nearly 30% with a 15% jump at AMC, the home of popular series “Mad Men” and “The Walking Dead.”

“These successes underscore the strength of our original programming strategy, which continues to drive audience and advertiser demand for our networks,” said CEO Josh Sapan, noting that 2012 “is off to a strong start.”

International revenue nosed up 3.8%. Losses widened by $1 million to $13 million.

The company is currently in a carriage fight with satellite operator Dish, which said it plans to drop AMC’s four networks, AMC, IFC, We and Sundance Channel, as their current contracts expire in late May and June.

AMC reiterated its belief that the termination notice “is directly related to the ongoing litigation between Dish Network and Voom HD” and said the financial impact will depend on several factors, including the length of time the networks are off the Dish platform, and may be material to financial results.

The two companies have been in a legal battle since 2008 that’s now headed for trial over Dish’s decision to cancel Voom, a suite of high-def networks. Dish chairman Charlie Ergen said this week that dropping AMC Networks is unrelated to the litigation and purely a matter of price.