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SARS pushes Phoenix deeper into the red
( 2003-11-13 10:56) (China Daily HK Edition)

The Hong Kong-based Phoenix Satellite Television yesterday posted a larger loss in the first fiscal quarter, blaming it partly on the delayed impact of SARS epidemic.

The net loss for the company, which is 38-per-cent owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp, widened to HK$25.63 million (US$3.29 million) in the quarter ended September 30 from HK$20.42 million (US$2.62 million) a year earlier.

Chairman Liu Changle said the latest quarterly loss was "clearly larger than the normal seasonal fluctuation in the first quarter of previous years".

It "seemed to be, at least in part, a delayed effect of the SARS epidemic, which had disrupted Phoenix's advertising sales programmes on the mainland," Liu said.

The influence of SARS on domestic travel and on the commercial focus of various advertising clients seems to have contributed to a much larger than expected reduction in income in July and August, he said.

Total revenue, 89 per cent of which came from advertising, dropped by 8.1 per cent to HK$152.2 million (US$19.51 million).

The company's flagship Chinese channel, which contributed 83 per cent of its revenue, recorded a 15-per-cent fall in revenue.

Phoenix's first-quarter results marked its 11th consecutive quarterly loss, which started since its 2001 launch of its InfoNews channel. The channel cost about HK$20 million (US$2.56 million) annually in its first two years.

InfoNews channel, however, reported a 267 per cent jump in revenue to HK$7.47 million (US$957,000) in the quarter, as it received mainland landing rights in January.

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