WIC posts improved net earnings

Year-end results 150% better

TORONTO — Western Intl. Communications (WIC) has posted year-end net earnings of C$24 million ($16.4 million) — a 150% improvement over the previous year — despite a turbulent fiscal year during which $11.6 million in restructuring costs accrued.

The gain is due in part to the sale of WIC Connexus, the Vancouver-based media company’s wireless technology division, and the elimination of costs related to that division.

Consolidated revenue for the year ended Aug. 31 was $383 million, down about 2% from the year before. Growth in WIC’s premium TV subscriber base, driven mostly by a significant increase in Star Choice and ExpressVu direct-to-home pay subscriptions, contributed an additional 26% to revenues.

The company’s TV revenues decreased by 4% from the year before, however, due to increased competition from national specialty webs and two conventional stations launched in Vancouver and Montreal.

Dividing the company

Last week, WIC’s major shareholders, Shaw Communications, CanWest Global Communications and Corus Entertainment, signed a definitive agreement to divide the company among them, subject to the approval of Canada’s broadcast regulator.

WIC is a national broadcasting and communications company with nine TV stations, 12 radio stations and a pay-per-view service. It also owns 28.8% of Canadian Satellite Communications.