Television Broadcasts (TVB) has blamed the continuing slowdown in consumer spending and the knock-on effects on advertising revenue for a near 2 per cent fall in attributable profits last year. The company - Hong Kong's biggest TV broadcaster - made profits of $477 million in the year to December, compared with $485 million in 1995. The figure is 10 per cent lower than the consensus forecast for the year contained in the latest edition of The Estimate Directory. Turnover for the year climbed $196 million to $2.92 billion, while earnings per share fell from $1.16 in 1995 to $1.14. The final dividend was held at 60 cents, giving a full-year payment of 80 cents. TVB said the cyclical downturn in consumer spending that muted its performance last year appeared to have bottomed out. However, it held out improved prospects for this year. 'As the general economic recovery gains momentum, we anticipate increases in television advertising revenues,' company secretary Ho Ting-kwan said. 'Accordingly we anticipate a rebound in earnings for 1997.' The company also held out the prospect of improved earnings from its regional operations and overseas sales as more terrestrial, cable and satellite television services come on line across Asia. Merrill Lynch media analyst Cara Eio said it was well known the only foreign earnings contributor was TVB's joint venture in Taiwan. The company has other projects in Thailand and India and licensing and distribution deals in China, Southeast Asia, North America and Europe. Ms Eio said she did not expect these to start adding to revenues for a further two to three years. Last month Shaw Brothers, the largest shareholder, raised its stake in the company after buying a 10 per cent stake from British media conglomerate Pearson. Shaw Brothers now has 28.8 per cent while the Shaw Foundation holds 5.39 per cent.