Baton profits nearly doubled

TORONTO — Baton Broadcasting Inc., one of Canada’s largest TV station owners, nearly doubled its profit in the third quarter ended May 31.

Toronto-based Baton said Wednesday that profit climbed to C$7.2 million ($5.1 million) from C$3.8 million ($2.7 million) a year earlier. Revenue climbed to $52.5 million from $44.1 million.

Baton said its results are not directly comparable with a year ago because it bought Calgary TV station CFCN in the final quarter last year and closed a strategic alliance with Electrohome Ltd. of Kitchener, Ont., Sept. 30, 1996.

For the nine months, Baton made $5.6 million on revenue of $145.4 million, down from about $6.4 million on revenue of $125.8 million a year earlier.

In a statement, Baton said it expects its core broadcasting operations will continue to improve but that profit for the next fiscal year will be hurt by the first year of operations of its new Vancouver TV station, the launch in September of its 65.1%-owned Comedy Network and developments at the CTV television network.

The Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission begins hearings July 15 in Ottawa to consider Baton’s proposed purchase of Electrohome’s TV broadcasting and production assets.

It will also hear Baton’s application to swap four of its Ontario TV stations for CHUM Ltd.’s CTV-affiliated stations in the Atlantic provinces. If the CRTC approves the deals, Baton will own 57.1% of CTV.

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