Viacom 4Q report showed an 8% boost in revenue to $22.5bln, thanks to gains in ad sales across its cable nets (+21%). Profit at the conglomerate’s cable outlets, including MTV and Comedy Central, was up 9% in the Q, led by a 15% increase in revenue to $1.9bln, while FY04 revenue for the unit was up 17% to $6.6bln. A lot of the success can be lain at the feet of dynamos like Comedy’s "The Daily Show," which saw ratings jump 36% YOY; that kind of juice allowed Viacom to boost prices for a 30-sec ad 25% to $3,286. Co-COO Tom Freston projected that MTV in 1Q "is likely to be the #1 rated cable network again for a record 32 consecutive quarters among people 12 to 24, and 29 consecutive quarters among people 18 to 24," before adding that Jan saw VH1, CMT, Comedy, and Nick at Nite all post their highest-rated months among the 18-34 demo. Looking down the road, Les Moonves said cable will continue to be a pet area, as "the best place historically for Viacom to invest money has been in the cable network group." He added the nets are "really leveraging into the multi-platform world in a bigger way, [with] VOD, wireless and broadband." – As the numbers eddied around Wall St yesterday, shares closed down 89 cents at $35.28. (Viacom took an $18bln charge in order to slash the value of its struggling radio and outdoor ad businesses.)

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