Hearst-Argyle Drives Increase in Retransmission-Consent Revenue

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Pay TV providers are paying TV-station-group owner Hearst-Argyle Television more money to retransmit its stations to their subscribers, according to the company’s first-quarter earnings report.

Hearst-Argyle said it posted $5.2 million in retransmission-consent revenue during the quarter, an increase of 12% compared with the same period last year.

The company -- which has waged public battles with cable operators and direct-broadcast satellite providers over demands that they pay it cash in exchange for distributing feeds from its stations -- had said earlier that it expects total retransmission-consent revenue to increase to $18 million in 2007, which would mark a tenfold increase compared with 2006.

Recent retransmission-consent deals Hearst struck include pacts with Verizon Communications for its FiOS TV platform and an agreement with AT&T for its U-verse TV service.

Despite a boost in retransmission-consent fees, Hearst-Argyle said total revenue during the quarter dropped 2.6% to $169.4 million. It blamed the absence of Olympic Games advertising revenue and a drop in political-advertising spending on the decrease.

Hearst-Argyle didn’t break out revenue from its Ripe Digital Entertainment investment, in which it owns a 25% equity stake. Ripe owns youth oriented video-on-demand programming services RipeTV, OctaneTV and FlowTV.

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