Fireworks bursts CanWest’s bottom line

Writedown includes prod'n, distrib arm's film library

TORONTO — CanWest Global Communications posted a second-quarter loss of C$211.3 million ($155.5 million) on Wednesday, primarily due to a $153.8 million writedown on Fireworks Entertainment.

Company announced last week that it’s putting the production and distribution arm on the block. Fireworks produces series such as “Gene Roddenberry’s Andromeda” and “Mutant X.” Included in the writedown is a $28.7 million non-cash charge on Fireworks’ film and television library.

Company posted net earnings of $7.4 million for the same quarter, ended Feb. 28, a year ago.

Revenue for the period was $363.4 million, down from $356.1 million. When CanWest’s 56.6% interest in Network TEN is included, combined revenue was $431.1 million, 5% higher than the previous year’s second quarter.

“Results for the second quarter demonstrate the value of CanWest’s diversification strategy,” said prexy-CEO Leonard Asper, “and particularly our holdings in Australia and New Zealand broadcasting assets, which offset the disappointing results from Canadian conventional television.” He added that the company’s Canadian newspaper holdings turned in a solid performance that should continue for the remainder of the year.

Canadian publishing revenue was up 5% to $202 million, while broadcasting revenue in Canada fell 6% to $118.4 million. Television revenue in Australia, New Zealand and Ireland was up 22.5% to $81.9 million.

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