CTV, Bell ring in gains

Total revs for first quarter increased to $228 mil

MONTREAL — Revenue and advertising were up in the first quarter for Bell Globemedia, one of Canada’s leading media companies, mainly thanks to strong ratings at the CTV Network. CTV, which is owned by Bell Globemedia, is garnering better ratings this year, thanks to hot properties like “CSI,” “CSI: Miami” and “American Idol.”

Bell Globemedia reported Wednesday that its total revenue for the first quarter increased to C$335 million ($228 million), up from $212 million in the same quarter last year. Television advertising revenues increased 13% for the quarter ended March 31, compared with the same quarter last year. The advertising growth was due to the CTV hits and a general strengthening of the overall television advertising market in Canada.

Cash flow for Bell Globemedia, which is owned by telecom giant BCE, improved 12% to $25 million due to an increase in revenues and cost-control efforts, including job cuts at CTV.

Bell Globemedia reported a loss in the quarter of $1.4 million, compared with net earnings of $681,000 in the first quarter a year earlier. Earnings dipped due in part to higher-interest charges associated with Bell Globemedia’s purchase of a 15% interest in the Toronto Maple Leafs hockey team, the Toronto Raptors basketball team and the Air Canada Center.

The number of subscribers at BCE-owned DTH service Bell ExpressVu increased by 13,000 to 1.3 million subscribers, and BCE expects the subscriber total to be between 1.41 million and 1.46 million by the end of the year. Revenue from Bell ExpressVu increased to $120 million, up from $103 million in the first quarter last year.

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