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(April 24, 2001) -- Viacom Inc. narrowed its loses in the first quarter of this year to $7.3 million -- more or less in line with analysts expectations.

In last year's first-quarter period, the company -- parent of CBS, MTV, Nickelodeon, UPN, and Paramount Studios -- had a net loss of $384.3 million. The loses were due to Viacom's acquisition of CBS.

In a conference call with analysts, Viacom's president and chief operating officer, Mel Karmazin, said the company remained confident it could deliver a 20% increase in cash flow or $6.2 billion, though the possible impact of two Hollywood strikes and a possible weaker advertising market could affect up to 5% of its annual pre-tax earnings.

Viacom posted a 15% increase in cash flow -- earnings before interest, tax and depreciation -- to $1.15 billion from $1 billion a year ago, as all of its business segments except radio broadcasting showed improvements over last year. -- Wayne Friedman

Copyright April 2001, Crain Communications Inc.

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