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Discovery Earnings Driven By Strong Overseas Numbers

Discovery Communications saw the benefit of its global footprint in the final quarter of 2009, with advertising revenue up 33% and distribution revenue up 16% in its international segment. Revenue in the segment was up 22%, to $358 million, for the quarter. Part of the boost came from more favorable currency rates. Adjusted operating income at International Networks rose 42%.

Domestic revenue rose 3%, to $554 million, while adjusted operating income at U.S. Networks saw a 4% decline, a result of a $22 million content impairment charge.

Discovery also recorded an additional $20 million in costs associated with OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network, which it half-owns along with Winfrey's Harpo Productions. The company said last year it expected to spend between $70 million and $80 million on launching the new channel, which is expected to roll out in January 2011. OWN threw out some of its original programming concepts and switched executives early in its evolution.

At the company's U.S. Networks unit, advertising revenue grew 2% in the quarter, to $287 million, thanks to higher cash sellouts and higher ratings, and rose 2% for the year. Subscription revenue rose 4% in the quarter and 6% for the full year.