Baton pins lower profits to competition, metering

TORONTO — Baton Broadcasting Inc., which owns 24 TV stations across Canada and is the largest share-holder in the CTV Television Network, has attributed lower first-quarter profit to the impact of peoplemeters and the expansion of competing stations.

Toronto-based Baton reported profit for the three months ended Nov. 30 of C$4.6 million ($3.4 million), compared with C$6.8 million ($5.0 million) a year earlier.

First-quarter revenue rose to $51.6 million from $47.9 million, but these results are not directly comparable, as the latest figure includes CFCN, a Calgary television station acquired in the fourth quarter of fiscal 1996.

In August, the Canadian Radio-television & Telecommunications Commission allowed Chum Ltd.’s CITY TV in Toronto and WIC Western Intl. Broadcasting Ltd.’s CHCH TV in Hamilton to extend their signals throughout Ontario, adding to the competition the Baton stations face in the province. Until now, Baton’s only serious competi-tor in Ontario was the Global Television Network, owned by CanWest Global Communications Corp.

Although peoplemeter-measured ratings hurt Baton last year, the company said ratings for its primetime schedule are improving and should yield higher airtime revenue in the second quarter.

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