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Disney Broadcast Profits Slammed

ABC took a stiff financial hit in its third quarter ended June 30, posting a 21% plunge in earnings despite a modest increase in revenues.

The Walt Disney Co. unit’s ABC network and stations boosted sales a moderate 6% to $1.3 billion, but operating profits dropped sharply to $144 million. The company’s earnings statement did not explain the drop, broadly blaming higher programming and production costs.

The continuing problems at ABC--where Disney replaced senior executives last April--were more than offset by financial strength at the company’s cable networks, led by ESPN and The Disney Channel. Cable revenues increased a fairly strong 10% to $1.6 billion, but profits surged 31% to $529 million.