Corus back in black on solid 2003

Media co. sees ad growth, slight revenue dip

TORONTO — Corus Entertainment turned the ship around in 2003. After losing a whopping C$168.6 million ($128.9 million) for the year ended Aug. 31; company posted solid net earnings of $30.1 million in spite of what execs called a “volatile market.”

“This has been an excellent year for Corus,” prexy and CEO John Cassaday said Thursday. “We delivered top-line growth, despite the negative impact in Canada of a number of unforeseen events, including war uncertainties and SARS.”

The Toronto-based media and entertainment company’s revenues for the year dipped 5% to $515.6 million due to divestitures and the reduction of the production slate of kidvid subsid Nelvana. Take those factors out and revenues would be up 2%, primarily a reflection of ad growth.

The company reported “outstanding performances” from its TV and radio divisions. Ad revenue grew by 9% in TV and by 7% in radio, exceeding targets. TV auds aged 25-54 jumped 40% for specialty analog TV services YTV, W Network and CMT.

Overall TV revenues shrunk just 1% year-on-year, to $308.5 million.

Revenues in Corus’ content division, which includes production and distribution and branded consumer products, dropped by 6% to $88.9 million, a reflection of the reduced production slate and a strategy shift toward a more market-driven consumer products business model.

Revenues were up 89% for the consumer products division however, driven by strong merchandising sales from the “Beyblade” and “Rescue Heroes” franchises.

Corus is controlled by the Shaw family, which also controls Shaw Communications, Canada’s second-largest cabler.

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