CanWest winning in Winnipeg

Rev for quarter $414 mil, up 7% from a year ago

TORONTO — The sale of assets, improved ad markets and strong TV ratings brought CanWest, Canada’s largest media conglom, into the black for the second quarter.

Winnipeg-based CanWest posted earnings for the three months ended Feb. 28 of C$10 million ($6.9 million). That compares to a loss in the second quarter of fiscal 2002 of $15 million. The company took a $7.6 million charge last year when it wrote down goodwill in Australia’s Network Ten’s investment in Eye Corp. CanWest owns 57.2% of Network Ten.

This quarter’s bottom line enjoyed a $14.4 million boost from the sale of a group of Ontario community newspapers for an aggregate $132.9 million.

“Looking ahead, advertising markets continue to be strong in all the company’s major business segments,” CanWest said in a statement, “although the improvement in newspapers is proceeding more slowly than the strong performance of our television operations. The war in Iraq will not have a significant impact on advertising markets.”

Revenue for the quarter was $414 million, up 7% from a year ago.

Revenue from the company’s Canuck TV operations jumped 10% to $117 million, thanks to an improved ad market and strong ratings performance from its Global TV Network, CH TV, and its specialty channel Prime TV.

The company’s share of TV revenues from Network Ten jumped 18% to $44 million, partly thanks to an increase in the exchange rate value of the Oz dollar.

CanWest operations include a national TV network, production arm Fireworks Entertainment and newspapers. It also owns TV and radio interests in New Zealand, Australia, Ireland and the U.K.

Revenues from production arm Fireworks continued to shrink, with a 14% drop to $24 million, due to weakness in international media markets, according to the company.

CanWest’s priorities continue to be cutting its debt and costs and finding operational efficiencies. The company also plans to launch more digital specialty TV channels.

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