A dismal showing by Australian television network Nine has led to media conglomerate Publishing and Broadcasting Limited posting its first fall in profits since 2001.

PBL, controlled by billionaire Kerry Packer and his family, reported net profits down by 28.1% to A$480.1 million ($364m; €296m; £202m).

Nine's disappointing performance was sparked by fierce competition from ratings resurgent rival Seven Network [WAMN: 25-Aug-05]. Nine has been forced to spend more on programming, resulting in a 3.6% fall in operating earnings to A$270m.

But PBL executive chairman, James Packer, is bullish about the network's future and quashed rumors of a sale: "Are we concerned about Nine? Yes. Are we going to work harder in the future to address those issues? Yes. Are we feeling good about the company? Yes."

The group's other divisions, namely magazines, gaming and the internet performed better. The magazine arm saw a 16.2% rise in earnings, underpinned by strong advertising growth and solid copy sales in Australia and New Zealand.

Data sourced from Sydney Morning Herald; additional content by WARC staff