Hearst-Argyle More Than Triples Retrans Take

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Hearst-Agyle Television reports that its retransmission consent revenue more than tripled in the first half of 2006 to $8.6 million from $2.6 million in the first half of 2005.

The major chunk of that increase comes from a deal with EchoStar tied to the resolution of a feud over carriage of H-A co-owned Lifetime cable net, as well as to deals with Charter and, just recently, Verizon, plus some smaller deals.

With a full-year 2006 figure for the EchoStar deal projected by B&C at $11 million, EchoStar would represent the vast majority of that six-month increase. A Hearst-Argyle spokesman would not comment.

Retransmission consent revenue is collected from cable systems and other multichannel video distributors for the rights to carry local TV stations, often with co-owned cable networks added to insure their carriage as well.

H-A reported its earning for the quarter ended June 30 Thursday, saying total revenue had increased 3% to $194 million, helped by that retrans boost, which was a 156% increase from the previous quarter, as well as a big boost in political dollars to $12.9 million for the quarter compared to $2.3 million in the previous quarter.

Ad sectors showing growth included retail, telecommunications, financial, attractions and furniture, although the automotiv category, one of station's anchor ad tenants, was down 11%.

At $3.3 million, net digital revenue outpaced net ad sales, which were up 2% to $2.7 million. That is new money, since the net digital revenue category only recorded $92,000 for the first six months of 2005, and wasn't even on the charts in 2004.

Hearst says it is on track to record record between $756 and $770 million in revenue, its projection back in February.

Hearst owns 25 TV stations, manages three more, has two radio stations and runs station Websites plus has a 38% stake in Web site company Internet Broadcasting.

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