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CanWest int’l ops post gain

Fireworks falter partially offset by one-time transactions

TORONTO — CanWest Global Communications posted Tuesday its last loss fueled by production arm Fireworks Entertainment.

For the year ended Aug. 31, CanWest reported C$13 million ($10.6 million) in red ink compared to net earnings a year earlier of $37.6 million.

The $170 million bite that Winnipeg-based CanWest took when it shuttered the ailing Fireworks during the year was partly offset by one-time transactions. These included a $95.6 million gain on the sale of its interest in Ulster TV in Northern Ireland and its New Zealand Broadcasting assets, which it took public. CanWest also reported a foreign exchange gain of $29.4 million

Take one-time charges and benefits away, and net earnings from continuing operations for the year jumped 69% to $158.5 million. Revenue was up 4% to $2.089 billion. CanWest prexy and CEO Leonard Asper said international operations, including TV3 Ireland, radio and TV operations in New Zealand and Network Ten in Australia, of which CanWest owns 56.6%, recorded their best financial perfs ever.

Its Canuck TV interests fared far more poorly. Global Television is trailing far behind rival CTV in ratings and ad sales.

In an effort to turn things around, CanWest went south of the border for new blood.

Rainbow Media Holdings alumnus Kathleen Dore will head TV and radio; Michael Williams, former chief information officer of the New York Times, will head publications; and Time Warner veteran Joseph Mangione is president, sales and marketing.

Meanwhile, three 19-year vets, CanWest ad sales head Jack Tomik, program buyer Doug Hoover and production VP Loren Mawhinney, were shown the door.

Company recently rebranded its Canuck and international operations under the names CanWest MediaWorks and CanWest MediaWorks Intl., respectively.

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