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Sinclair Broadcast Group reports 33 percent jump in 1Q profit

Television broadcasting company Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc. reported a 33 percent increase in profits for the first quarter of 2011, driven by strong ad spending during the Super Bowl in February.

Hunt Valley-based Sinclair said Wednesday it had net broadcast revenue of $155.9 million for the quarter ending March 31, compared with $147.9 million for the corresponding period in 2010. Net income attributable to Sinclair was $15.3 million for the quarter, compared with $11.5 million for the first three months of 2010, a 33 percent increase.

The company reported diluted earnings per common share of 19 cents for the three-month period versus diluted earnings per common share of 14 cents in the prior-year period.

“We continue to see growth in our core business, both in the first quarter and in our second quarter expectations,” Sinclair CEO David Smith said in a statement. “We are also seeing continued advertising growth in the auto category, although our outlook provides for some slowing due to new car production disruptions as a result of the Japanese crisis.”

Sinclair owns, operates, programs or provides sales services to 58 television stations in 35 markets. Sinclair’s television group reaches approximately 22 percent of U.S. television households.

This year, the Feb. 6 broadcast of the Super Bowl on Sinclair’s 20 Fox affiliates generated revenue of $6.2 million, a 26.5 percent increase over 2008, the last time the network televised the game.

Sinclair said advertising categories with the largest spending increases in the quarter were: automotive; schools; pharmaceuticals and furniture. Restaurants, home products, grocery, paid programming and religious programming saw the biggest declines.

Sinclair’s shares lost 50 cents, or 4.5 percent, Wednesday to close at $10.51 on Nasdaq.