CanWest soars past setback

TORONTO — CanWest Global Communications Corp. failed Tuesday to persuade the Canadian govern-ment to overturn a ruling that blocked it from launching new television stations in Alberta, but the Winnipeg-based broadcaster is making so much money it hardly seems to matter.

CanWest recently reported profit from continuing operations for the first quarter ended Nov. 30, 1996, of C$53.4 million ($39.8 million), a 71% gain from $23.3 million in the first three months of fiscal 1995. Revenue rose 29% to $164 million from $127 million.

Australia’s Network Ten was a big factor in the results. CanWest’s share of Network Ten’s revenue rose to $68.5 million, up 36% from a year earlier, while its share of the network’s broadcast operating profit rose to $27.8 mil-lion, up 33%. The gains reflect two added stations, improved performance by the network, and CanWest’s in-creased economic interest.

Last week, CanWest raised its economic stake in Network Ten to 76%, up from 66%. Its voting interest remains at 15%, in accordance with Australian regulations.

In a ruling Tuesday, the government OK’d licenses for new Alberta television stations awarded to Craig Broadcast Systems Inc., a small regional broadcaster based in Brandon, Manitoba.

But Sheila Copps, minister of Canadian Heritage, said the government would direct the CRTC to consider the need for a third Canadian TV web, which CanWest has been seeking.

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