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Thursday, February 23, 2006

NEW YORK — CBS Corp. reported a loss of $9.1-billion (U.S.) in the fourth quarter on hefty charges to write down the value of its radio and television businesses, the media company reported Thursday.

CBS was reporting earnings for the first time as a separate company since its separation from Viacom Inc. was completed at the beginning of the year. CBS reported the fourth quarter as if it were already a separate entity.

On that basis, CBS had a net loss amounting to $6 per share for the three months ended Dec. 31, weighed down by charges to write down the fair market value of its radio and television properties. The valuations of radio stations in particular have suffered in recent years due to stagnant revenues and higher costs.

The latest results compared to an even larger net loss of $18.4-billion, or $10.99 per share, in the comparable period in 2004, when the company also recorded big charges to write down its radio stations as well as its outdoor advertising business.

Revenues rose 2 per cent to $3.83-billion from $3.75-billion a year earlier.

Excluding the charges, and assuming the split had occurred at the beginning of 2005, CBS said earnings would have been $311-million, or 41 cents per share. That was 2 cents a share ahead of the forecast of analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial.

Also excluding the charges, CBS said that operating income rose 3 per cent to $647-million, led by a 9 per cent gain in its television business, 18 per cent higher profits in outdoor advertising, offset by an 11 per cent decline in earnings from radio.

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