Astral sees luminous gains

Net earnings soar 29% on 15% revenue increase

TORONTO — Buoyant specialty and pay television sectors and a healthy ad market have produced a strong fiscal first quarter at Montreal-based Astral Media, which saw improved revenues and earnings.

Net earnings for the quarter ended Nov. 30 soared 29% to C$20.9 million ($16.1 million), on revenues of $99 million, up 15% from a year ago.

“Driving hard on the heels of an excellent year in fiscal 2003, we are pleased to begin fiscal 2004 with a solid first quarter,” said prexy-CEO Ian Greenberg. “Strong original programming and exclusive premieres continue to drive subscribership on our pay networks, while targeted niche programming generates solid results for our specialty channels.”

TV ad revenues jumped 23% to $13.6 million and radio ad sales increased 56% to $19.9 million for the quarter.

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