CanWest profit up due to TV sale

Media company posted net earnings of C$179 million

The sale of TV3 Ireland brought CanWest Global Communications a boffo bottom line for the yearend and fourth quarter even as revenues for both fiscal periods lost ground in the face of poor ad sales. 

For the year ended Aug. 31, the Winnipeg-based media company posted net earnings of C$179 million ($158 million,) compared to $8.8 million the previous year, thanks to a $144.8 million gain on the sale of TV3 Ireland.

Revenue for the period was down by 5% at $2.54 billion. A weak ad market adversely affected the company’s international holdings, which include 57% of Network Ten Australia.

After Oz announced it was easing foreign cross-media ownership laws the company said it’s exploring “opportunities for the company in that evolving environment.”

But it was the Canadian market that really suffered, with homegrown TV revenue down 6% to $579 million, as CanWest invested more in programming in an aggressive push to improve aud numbers in spite of lagging revenue.

“All our major operations faced difficult advertising markets over the past year with adverse currency translation contributing further to declines in results from the South Pacific,” said CanWest prexy and CEO Leonard Asper. He said markets had since stabilized and expects revenue for next year to firm up.

For the fourth quarter, CanWest posted a bottom line of $136.8 million, a turnaround from $93.6 million in red ink from the previous year, thanks again to the TV3 sale, which took place during the quarter.

Revenue for the period slipped 6% to $578 million.

In addition to its sale of TV3, during the year the company spun off its publications group with an IPO and received new radio licenses in the U.K. and acquired radio interests in Turkey.

Politico Derek Burney was appointed chairman of the board of directors.

A surprise announcement from the Canadian government Tuesday that it will begin taxing income trusts has nixed CanWest’s intention to explore that option.

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