Ad Slump Depresses NBC Profit

The weakening advertising market took its toll on NBC during the first quarter, with the peacock network reporting a 12% drop in profit and a 3% decrease in revenue.

NBC parent General Electric Co. reported that its TV unit posted earnings of $346 million for the first three months of 2001, down from $394 million in the same quarter a year ago. Revenue dropped to $1.35 billion from $1.39 billion. GE’s overall profit rose 16% to $3.02 billion before 2001 ac-counting changes for the quarter. Revenue inched up 2% to $30.5 billion.

GE, which doesn’t break down earnings within the NBC unit, said the network posted its fourth straight sweep win in the key adults 18-49 demographic, airing six of the top 10 performing shows. NBC’s cable business also continued to grow share, while business channel CNBC recorded “double-digit” earnings growth, the company said.