4Q Write-Down: Starz Don't Shine At Liberty

Even the savviest of investors can't escape this recession.

Liberty Media, which is controlled by John Malone, took a $1.2 billion write-down for its pay TV channel group Starz Entertainment, in the fourth-quarter 2008, en route to a $1.3 billion quarterly loss. The loss is against an operating profit of $30 million in the year-ago quarter.

The company noted that Liberty Entertainment--which houses the Starz division--still has plans to go ahead with a spinoff as a tracking stock.

Liberty Media's 54% interest in satellite TV program distributor DirecTV Group is also in Liberty Entertainment. Liberty Entertainment has a 40% position in the struggling digital radio service Sirius XM. Malone recently took a $530 million equity stake in the satellite radio company.

On the positive side, revenue at Liberty Entertainment climbed $285 million from $265 million in the period the year before.

The economic slump has hit retailers in a big way, and Liberty's QVC is no exception to this rule. Liberty Interactive, of which QVC is a part, stumbled with declines: 8% lower revenue to $2.1 billion, with a 12% loss in U.S. sales revenue.



In its Liberty Capital Group division--which contains its new theatrical movie division, Overture Films and the Atlanta Braves--revenues climbed 44% to $131 million. But its operating income fell 20% to $106 million.

This was primarily a result of marketing and advertising costs related to the release of eight Overture films in 2008 and the inclusion of the operations of the Atlanta Braves. The team generally operates at a loss, since significant revenues do not begin until the start of the baseball season in April.

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