Viacom's Cable Channels Help Boost Q1 Earnings

Viacom, the Sumner
Redstone-controlled media conglom which houses Paramount
film studio and the MTV Networks suite of cable channels, joined a group of
media companies participating in the growing economic recovery.

Reporting first-quarter
earnings on April 29, the company recorded a 37% rise in net earnings, to $243
million, thanks to the better ad climate and rising subscription fees from
pay-TV distributors. However, the company's film unit had a tougher time,
contributing to an overall revenue decline of 4%, to $2.79 billion, in the
period. The results were in line with most analysts' estimates.

The Media Networks unit,
which includes MTV, BET and Comedy Central, among other basic cable channels, saw
a 1% increase in domestic ad revenue thanks to rising scatter prices, and 3% rise

While analysts have been
expecting the company's TV channels to do better than last year, some note that
the company will likely under perform the broader TV ad market because of ratings
issues and the fragmentation of younger audiences. Even so, the cable channel unit
recorded a 9% increase in operating income, to $684 million.

Viacom also noted that its total debt outstanding,
$6.79 billion, was barely changed from the previous quarter.