CanWest has content qtr.

Revs edge up; earnings slip

TORONTO — CanWest Global announced a steady first quarter that included a slight increase in revenues and a dip in earnings.

Revenues for the quarter were C$268.3 million ($184.2 million), an increase of 2% from the first quarter of 1999. Net earnings were down almost 6% at $33.6 million, or 23¢ per share.

“CanWest continues to book the interest cost of carrying over $480.6 million in investments, including investments in WIC and Ulster TV, whose operating results are not included in the combined results of CanWest,” president/CEO Leonard Asper said in a statement. “Inclusion of these results would have contributed to a significant increase in revenues and operating profits.”

CanWest’s major challenge for the rest of fiscal 2000, according to a written statement by founder/exec chairman Israel Asper, will be to complete the regulatory process to take over CanWest’s portion of Vancouver-based media group Western Intl. Communications and to complete the integration of the WIC operations into CanWest web the Global Network.

“In addition, we intend to increase our reach with complementary media, through a renewed acquisition strategy that will build on our strengths and take advantage of our management expertise and experience,” Asper said.

In December, CanWest launched a news and information Web site in partnership with Internet Broadcasting Systems. CanWest holds a 20% equity interest in IBS along with American media companies Hearst Argyle and the Washington Post Co.

Winnipeg-based CanWest owns part or all of conventional TV and specialty channels in Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Ireland and the U.K. Company also has production, distribution and new-media divisions.

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