Spanish-language broadcaster Univision Communications reported last week that its profit and revenue surged during the first quarter, thanks to strong audience growth at its broadcast and cable properties. The Los Angeles-based company, which owns the Univision, TeleFutura and Galavision networks, saw its profit jump 41 percent in the quarter to $44.5 million, while revenue advanced 23 percent to $433 million. Much of the growth was a result of ratings gains at two of its three networks. Univision also has radio, music and Internet interests. Univision said its 18 to 34 and 18 to 49 prime-time audiences grew by 58 percent and 39 percent, respectively. In addition, Univision’s stations in L.A., Houston and Fresno and Bakersfield, Calif., were No. 1 in total viewers in their markets, even measured against English-language stations.
Interest Ruling Goes Against Paxson
Paxson Communications was dealt a legal setback when a Delaware judge ruled that the interest on NBC Universal’s 32 percent stake in Paxson has been accruing at a rate of 28.3 percent, versus the 8 percent rate that Paxson had argued. The ruling, which was made in late April but announced last week, could mean that Paxson is required to pay as much as $700 million to repurchase NBCU’s interest in the beleaguered broadcaster. However, both Paxson and NBCU are still awaiting the judge’s ruling on whether Paxson must buy back the NBCU stake in the first place. NBCU argues that Paxson must pay NBCU for the stake, but Paxson has asserted that it is not required to do so. Also, Paxson has noted that paying NBCU for the stake would violate bank loan terms.
Comcast Agrees to Pay $170 Million
Comcast said last week that it will pay $170 million as part of its share of a settlement reached by AT&T for a series of lawsuits filed against former broadband service provider @Home, in which AT&T owned a stake through its cable operation now owned by Comcast. The settlement required Comcast to revise downward its first-quarter results to $143 million from a previously reported figure of $313 million. The $170 million amount is half of the $340 million settlement reached between AT&T and litigants, who had sued the now-defunct @Home alleging breaches of fiduciary duties, misappropriation of trade secrets and patent infringement. Comcast, as part of its 2002 agreement to acquire AT&T’s cable systems, agreed to pay half of any settlement reached in the @Home matter.
Alliance’s Martin to Step Down
Alliance Atlantis, the Canadian media company that co-produces the “CSI” franchise with CBS, announced last week that Chief Financial Officer W. Judson Martin is resigning for health reasons. Neither Mr. Martin nor Alliance Atlantis provided details of Mr. Martin’s illness. The company said he will stay on until a successor is named, which the company expects to take place by September.