×

Profits for CanWest head north

Canada's largest media company has eventful year

CanWest Global Communications, Canada’s largest media company, is rounding off an eventful year with an uptick in fiscals thanks to gains from the sale of some assets, as it awaits a crucial regulatory hearing into its purchase of Alliance Atlantis Communications.

Net income for the fourth quarter ended Aug. 31 was C$197 million ($209 million,) up 27%, on revenue up 11% at $720 million.

“All our operations showed marked improvement over the previous year,” said prexy and CEO Leonard Asper, with Canadian TV maintaining audience share versus its competitors.

During the quarter the Winnipeg-based company enjoyed gains of $267 million on the sale of its New Zealand media assets and its Canadian radio operations as well as another $174 million last year on the sale of TV3 Ireland.

In August CanWest closed its agreement, in partnership with Goldman Sachs Capital Partners, to acquire the broadcasting assets of Alliance Atlantis Communications for about $1.6 billion, pending regulatory approval. The Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission is skedded to begin its hearing into the deal on Nov. 19.

Unions repping CanWest employees are expected to picket the hearing, after the company announced in October that it is pink-slipping 200 newsgathering staff. The unions complain that the layoffs are part of cost-saving squeeze the company will increasingly rely on to pay for the AAC purchase and to cut its $3.8 billion debt.

They also oppose the AAC deal, in which GS contributed $509 million compared to CanWest’s $278 million (with the remainder of the $1.6 billion being borrowed), saying it gives foreigners effective control of the company, something that runs contrary to Canadian law.

CanWest reported that, on an unaudited basis, Alliance Atlantis’ pay TV operations reported revenue of $341 million for the year, up 9%, with bottom line profits of $107 million, “before corporate costs allocations and non-recurring items,” up 7%.

Brass told investors in a conference call that despite a soft fourth quarter for TV revenue, (which it blamed primarily on a later fall launch than last year), CanWest is continuing to gain ground.

In addition to increasing audience numbers in the 18-49 year demo, Asper described the rebranding of CanWest’s second Canadian terrestrial network, CH as E! as an unmitigated success.

“The television season launched to excellent results,” he said. “We really are in a dead heat with CTV in key markets.”

For the year, CanWest’s bottom line profit was $296 million, up from $190 million a year ago on revenue of $3.037 billion, up 7%.

Publishing revenue was up 2% at $1.362 billion, while revenue from Canadian TV climbed 4% to $724 million, as the company continues its aggressive pursuit of rival CTV for audience share with buys like “Survivor,” “House,” “Prison Break” and “Heroes.”

In Australia, the company’s Network Ten contributed $217 million to CanWest’s consolidated operating profit, up 4% from a year ago, thanks primarily to a firming of the TV ad market down under.

Popular on Variety

More Biz

  • Frank Grillo'Avengers: Endgame' Film Premiere, Arrivals,

    Matt Phelps Tapped as President of Joe Carnahan, Frank Grillo's Warparty

    Frank Grillo and Joe Carnahan’s Warparty productikon banner has appointed Matt Phelps president of the company. Phelps will head the Los Angeles office and be responsible for overseeing all film and television projects. “We searched long and hard to find the right fit for Warparty and felt that Matt embodied everything that we were looking [...]

  • Jack Gilardi, Longtime ICM Partners Agent,

    Jack Gilardi, Longtime ICM Partners Agent, Dies at 88

    Jack Gilardi, a longtime ICM Partners agent who represented such stars as Burt Reynolds, Sylvester Stallone, Jerry Lewis, Charlton Heston and Shirley MacLaine, died Thursday at his home in Los Angeles. He was 88. Gilardi was known for his gentlemanly style, love of the Los Angeles Dodgers and his skill at representing top actors. He [...]

  • Nexstar Completes Tribune Acquisition, Sean Compton

    Nexstar Completes Tribune Acquisition, Sean Compton to Head Programming

    Nexstar Media Group has become the nation’s largest owner of TV stations after completing its $4.1 billion acquisition of Tribune Media. The deal creates a broadcasting colossus with more than 200 stations serving more than 100 markets, although a number of stations will be divested to keep Nexstar in compliance with FCC ownership limits. Nexstar, [...]

  • Leaving Neverland HBO

    Judge Sides With Michael Jackson Estate in 'Leaving Neverland' Dispute

    A federal judge is leaning towards granting the Michael Jackson estate’s move to take HBO to arbitration in its dispute over the documentary “Leaving Neverland.” Judge George Wu issued a tentative ruling on Thursday in which he denied HBO’s motion to dismiss the estate’s case. Wu is expected to make the ruling final by the [...]

  • Homecoming

    Peak Storytelling Here as Podcasts, Short Form Ride New Wave

    The concept of peak TV is nothing new. But scratch the surface of original content these days, and it’s no longer about television — from podcasts and short-form video, storytelling itself is at a peak. Thanks to audio, video and other new platform companies including Gimlet, Quibi, Wondery, iHeartMedia and Serial Box, listeners and viewers [...]

  • Patti Smith Cambridge Folk Festival

    Patti Smith Muses Over the Many Ways to Tell a Story

    It’s Sept. 11, and Patti Smith has been thinking a lot about people who died. This is understandable. It is, of course, the 18th anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, and an annual time of mourning for New York City, the city that Smith adopted as her hometown 50-plus years [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content