Bell Globemedia revs up in 2004

Boffo ratings at CTV Network power strong perf

MONTREAL — Canuck media company Bell Globemedia, owned by telco giant BCE, posted 2004 revenue of C$1.4 billion ($1.1 billion), up 4.2% from a year earlier.

Full-year operating income was $193 million, up 43.7% from 2003.

For the fourth quarter, revs increased 8% to $326 million, up from $302 million. Operating income increased 56.1% to $83 million.

Bell Globemedia owns the CTV Network, a slew of specialty channels including sports net TSN and the Toronto Globe and Mail newspaper.

The strong performance was powered by continued boffo ratings for Toronto-based CTV Network, which had 16 of the top 20 regularly scheduled shows in the Great White North during the fall.

That helped the web up its advertising revs by 8% for the full year. CTV’s advertising increased 8.1% for the fourth quarter. The National Hockey League lockout also helped CTV. With no pro hockey on pubcaster CBC, some hockey sponsors have sought alternate advertising opportunities at CTV.

But the absence of NHL action hurt Bell Globemedia’s sports specialty channels TSN and the French-language RDS, which lost advertising.

Bell Globemedia’s subscriber revs increased by 11.6% in the fourth quarter and 2.4% for the whole year, reflecting specialty channel sub growth, and subscription and newsstand cover price increases at the Globe and Mail.

Production and other revenue declined 4.3% for the fourth quarter and 13.8% for the year due to the sale of a 50% interest in Dome Prods. in January 2004.

Bell Expressvu, BCE’s satellite service, posted revenues for the fourth quarter of $176 million, up 9.5% from a year earlier, and revenue for the year was $685 million, up 12% from a year earlier. It now has 1.5 million subs, an improvement of 8.4%.

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