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Revenue up, profit down for Time Warner in first quarter

May 4, 2011 |  8:38 am

Although revenue was up, higher costs for sports rights and a less than spectacular performance by Warner Bros. meant smaller profits for media giant Time Warner Inc.

The addition of the NCAA college basketball tournament meant more advertising dollars at Time Warner Inc.'s Turner networks. But it also increased programming costs. That and some disappointing releases from Warner Bros. including "Hall Pass," led to a nearly 10% drop to $653 million in net income for the company's first quarter. Revenue for the quarter was up 6% to $6.7 billion.

Turner and HBO led the way as usual, with revenue of $3.5 billion, an 18% gain. Subscriber fees jumped 9% to $167 million, advertising was up 31% to $242 million and the sale of programming such as HBO's "Boardwalk Empire" generated $120 million in revenue, a 48% gain. Programming costs were up almost 40% mostly because of the NCAA deal Turner signed in partnership with CBS.

At Warner Bros., revenue dipped 3% to $2.6 billion. The decline was attributed to a lack of blockbusters compared with the first quarter of 2010 when "The Blind Side" and "Sherlock Holmes" were still going strong.

On the publishing side, Time Inc., the parent company of Time, People and Sports Illustrated, had revenue of $798 million, the same as the first quarter of 2010.

-- Joe Flint