Media Stocks Start Year Higher on Fiscal Agreement

Cliff Less Likely to Affect Ad Revenues in 2013

Media companies were among the beneficiaries as the stock market rallied on news that the White House and Congress forged a deal to avoid sending the economy over the dreaded fiscal cliff.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped 308.41 points, or 2.35%, to close at 13.412. and many programmers registered even bigger gains because there had been concerns that falling over the fiscal cliff could lead to decreases in purchases by consumers and lower spending by companies, particularly on advertising. TV networks are starting to gear up for another upfront season, and not having to revise already fairly pessimistic outlooks for ad spending created a more positive atmosphere.

Among media stocks, Viacom was the biggest gainer on a percentage basis, jumping more than 6% to close at $56.01. Last year, ratings and ad revenues were down for some of Viacom's key cable networks and some analysts are expecting a rebound. A last minute agreement New Year's Eve with Cablevision Systems also prevented Viacom networks from being blacked out in parts of the New York market.

Other big gainers were Time Warner and Crown Media, rising more than 4% each to finish at $49.76 and $1.93 respectively. Up more than 3% were Comcast, closing at  $38.52; CBS at  $39.30, News Corp. at $27.19 and AMC at $51.00. Also racking up bigger increases than the Dow were Discovery Communications and Scripps Networks.

Netflix bucked the positive trend. Shares of the streaming video provider were down 0.63% to $92.01.