CBS Reported to Be Most Profitable Network in ’84

Associated Press

NBC made more profit last year from the five local television stations that it owns than it did on the entire NBC Television Network, an industry newsletter reports.

ABC and CBS also were able to make profits in the 30% range at their owned stations, according to today’s edition of Television Digest, which cited “reliable New York financial sources.”

CBS was the most profitable network and ABC took in the most money from the sale of network TV commercials, according to the newsletter’s report on the closely guarded statistics.

ABC had by far the best financial figures among the radio divisions of the three, said the report.


Officials at all three networks refused to confirm the figures but generally conceded that the annual report published by the newsletter is highly regarded in the industry for its accuracy.

The numbers took on added significance this year because of the swirl of buying and selling of broadcast properties.

All three companies had revenues and profits superior to 1983 figures published by the digest.

ABC Television sold the most advertising time in 1984, coming out far ahead of the other networks. ABC’s revenue was $2.64 billion, the newsletter said. After the bills were paid, the ABC Television Network had a pretax profit of $260 million.


At the TV network level, CBS took in $2.24 billion and had profits of $280 million; NBC billed $1.93 billion with $100 million in profits, said the report. Last year only ABC topped the $2 billion figure in sales.

Each of the networks spent between $260 million and $290 million for election coverage last year, the newsletter said.

The five TV stations that ABC owns brought in $455 million, more than $100 million more than each of its rivals. From that it took a $140 million pretax profit, according to the report.

To comply with federal ownership limits, ABC must sell some of the TV and radio stations it owns when it is taken over by Capital Cities Communications Inc.

NBC’s owned and operated TV stations took in $340 million with $115 million in profit, and CBS’s five stations profited $110 million on $330 million in revenue, the newsletter reported.

It said ABC’s radio division topped the list with $210 million in billings and profit of $28 million.