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Sinclair Revenues Up

Sinclair Broadcast Group which has had several run-ins recently with cable operators over retransmission fees, says it expects to generate almost $48 million in such fees, an almost 90 percent increase over the $25.4 million it collected in 2006.

The Baltimore-based station group, which own 58 TV stations in 36 markets, made its predictions in its latest financial report, in which it announced quarterly revenues of $198.1 million, an 11 percent increase over the $178.8 million reported in the same quarter a year ago. Sinclair earned a profit of $11.1 million, or 13 cents per share, compared with a loss of $1.8 million, or 2 cents per share in the same time period last year.

A large contributing factor to the company's improved bottom line came from a $32 million in political advertising, a record for the company during a non-presidential election year, as well as reduced operating expenses for the second consecutive year.

Sinclair has been on the forefront of demanding subscriber fees, and did so last summer when it went into negotiations with Mediacom, a 1.4 million subscriber cable operation based in Middletown, N.Y. Mediacom subsequently sued Sinclair to keep the broadcaster from pulling its stations, but the court did not intercede. Sinclair pulled its stations in early January, affecting about half of Medicom's customers and firing up the Iowa legislature.

In the weeks that followed, Sinclair cut a retrans deal with Time Warner covering 35 TV stations and 6 million cable subscribers. On Feb. 2, Mediacom announced that Sinclair stations would "be immediately restored" on its cable systems.

Sinclair also announced that its board of directors approved a $0.10 increase to annual dividend paid shareholders. Net income available to common shareholders for all of 2006 was $54 million.