Disney Scores in Quarter With ABC Rebound

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Walt Disney Co. finally started seeing the rebound of ABC translate into quarterly financial strength. The company’s broadcasting unit nearly doubled profits.

For the third fiscal quarter ended July 2, the Disney broadcast network and stations increased revenues 11% to $1.4 billion while operating cash flow soared 87% to $269 million.

The unit has been growing slowly because a weak scatter market made it hard for ABC to translate the success of Lost and Desperate Housewives into ad sales.

The cable networks division increased sales by 19% to $1.9 billion and cash flow by 38% to $729 million.

That was driven largely by ESPN’s annual rate hike to cable and DBS operators.

In a conference call to discuss earnings, Disney President Bob Iger said ESPN is in the middle of renegotiations with Comcast and Time Warner, but called them “very productive”.

Disney’s big problem is the studio unit, whose revenues dropped 15% to $1.5 billion. DVD sales dropped 5%, and total home video sales slid a sharp 15%

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