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Astral enjoys strong quarter

Net earnings up 74% for Canadian feevee b'caster

TORONTO — Canadian broadcaster Astral Media enjoyed a hefty gain in net income for the third quarter, led by strong TV performance coupled with accounting changes that added significantly to the bottom line.

Revenues for the third quarter ended May 31 were up 19% to C$104.5 million ($66.7 million), and net earnings jumped 74% to $9 million. Astral is Canada’s largest English- and French-lingo specialty, pay and pay-per-view TV broadcaster.

“This is a very strong quarter for Astral,” company prexy and CEO Ian Greenberg said. “Our television and outdoor advertising groups led the way with third-quarter revenue increases of 22% (to $52.6 million) and 23% (to $5.5 million) respectively. Our radio group’s performance is consistent with that of the Quebec radio market in the current year and its revenues increased by 4% (to $8.5 million) in the quarter.”

In addition, Montreal-based Astral enjoyed new accounting policies that allowed it to drop a charge of $1.7 million for the amortization of broadcast licenses. and good will from the books. “But even excluding the accounting changes,” Astral VP finance Claude Gagnon told Daily Variety, “net earnings would have increased by over 30%.”

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