Cable Nets Help to Push Viacom in 1Q

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Viacom Inc. reported revenue of $2.37 billion in the first quarter of 2006, up 12% compared with the year-ago period.

The media giant posted first-quarter operating income of $623.5 million, up 3% from $602.7 million in the prior-year quarter.

Net earnings from continuing operations slipped to $317.2 million from $325.6 million in the first quarter of 2005.

Consolidated free cash flow rose 17% to $368.5 million from $315.9 million in the year-earlier period.

The company said revenue at its cable networks -- MTV Networks, including MTV, VH1, Nickelodeon/Nick at Nite, TV Land, Spike TV, Comedy Central and CMT; BET Networks; and other program and online services -- rose 7% to $1.57 from $1.47 billion in the previous-year quarter and advertising revenues grew 4%. Affiliate fees were up 9%.

“There's great excitement and momentum at Viacom,” CEO Tom Freston said in a prepared statement.

“First off, we completed our first quarter as a new, focused and more nimble company,” he added. “We closed the acquisition of DreamWorks and sold the library, continued to make strong progress in the execution of our digital strategy and hit many all-time viewership highs at MTV Networks and BET Networks. We did face some challenges in the overseas ad market, but we have already taken steps that we believe will put that business back on track to deliver on its growth potential.”

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