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With BCE Deal on the Ropes, Canada's Astral Media Posts Higher Q4 Earnings

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The radio, TV and outdoor ad giant said it will continue as a profitable business as its future ownership is sorted out by regulators and bureaucrats in Ottawa.

TORONTO -- Canadian broadcaster Astral Media on Wednesday posted increased fourth quarter earnings as its future ownership remains very much limbo.

Montreal-based Astral saw earnings for the three months to August 31 come in at $31.3 million, against a profit of $29.7 million in 2011, on revenue up 2 percent to $252 million.

STORY: Canada's BCE Turns to Feds to Salvage $3.38 Billion Astral Media Takeover

The latest financial results follow the CRTC rejecting a bid by phone giant BCE to acquire Astral Media for $3.38 billion, a decision that has been appealed to the federal cabinet in Ottawa.

Stripping out Bell-Astral transaction costs and other one-time items, Q4 earnings were up 14 percent to $54.2 million.

Astral on Wednesday told shareholders that there was no assurance that BCE will ultimately acquire Astral Media.

So the TV, radio and outdoor advertising giant will continue on its own as a profitable venture.

“We remain fully committed to maintain the same financial discipline that allowed the company to grow in fiscal 2012 and to continue to invest in content and new products in order to offer the highest possible quality of products and services,” Astral Media CEO Ian Greenberg said in a statement.

STORY: Canada's BCE Asks Feds to Overturn CRTC Denial of Astral Media Deal

BCE has extended its takeover deal for Astral Media to December 16 as it looks to go over the heads of the CRTC and secure control of the target company through politicians and bureaucrats in Ottawa.

The future ownership of some of Canada’s most prized media assets, including the HBO Canada and The Movie Network pay TV channels, remains at stake.