Television Broadcasts (TVB) has reported a 4.05 per cent growth in earnings for the first half of the year, but cautioned that local advertiser sentiment remained poor. TVB, which operates the Pearl and Jade television channels, yesterday said net profit amounted to $187.37 million for the six months to June 30, up from $180.07 million for the same period last year. Chairman Sir Run Run Shaw said the company had 'modest improvement' in interim profit as a 'positive indicator and a sign that the economy is stabilising'. But he cautioned there was no evidence of 'significant improvement in advertiser sentiment in our local, core market'. Sir Run Run added: 'Advertisers continue to be tentative and have not yet aggressively recommitted to new ad spending.' Some analysts said a resurgence of rival free-to-air broadcaster Asia Television and the growing popularity of alternative television channels on cable and satellite meant TVB's grip on the local TV advertising market was weakening. 'Going forward, I think TVB's going to have a hard time capturing as large a share of the local market as it has in the past, even when the market fully recovers,' said one investment analyst who covers the local media market. Revenue was $1.48 billion in the half, down slightly from last year's $1.49 billion, while earnings rose 2.32 per cent to 44 cents per share. TVB will pay shareholders a 20 cent interim dividend, unchanged from last year. Sir Run Run said contributions from TVB's overseas markets had held up through the regional economic turmoil, with the exception of Taiwan, where 'intensifying competition has increased costs and brought profit margins under pressure'. TVB has been developing a satellite presence in Taiwan, launching two Galaxy channels in the past year. It said its North American satellite presence was also being expanded to include all its Taiwanese TV channels.