Canada b'casters see '06 revenue jump

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OTTAWA -- Canadian broadcasters are doing great business, Statistics Canada reported Wednesday.

Buoyed by its pay TV and VOD services, Canadian broadcast revenue surged 8.2% to CAN$6 billion ($5.76 bilion) in 2006, the government statistics agency reported in its latest survey of domestic broadcasters.

Advertising revenue for Canadian broadcasters overall increased 7.6% to CAN$3.3 billion ($3.17 billion) and subscription revenue rose 11.3% to CAN$1.6 billion ($1.53 billion) in 2006, Statscan reported.

But while the specialty and pay TV segments did big numbers, higher operating costs led pre-tax profits to fall 62.5% to CAN$90.9 million ($87.5 million) from 2005's CAN$242.7 million.

The industry report noted that 2006 represented the first first time in 15 years that the domestic industry generated less than CAN$100 million ($96 million) in profits and its 4.1% profit margin was the smallest posted in the last 30 years.

About 92% of revenue for private over-the-air broadcasters came from advertising sales, which remained unchanged from 2005 at CAN$2.2 billion ($2.15 billion).

In contrast, the rising popularity of pay-per-view and VOD helped revenue in the pay TV sector increase 17.7% to CAN$482.3 million ($463.7 million), the strongest growth area and the sector with the highest profit margins in Canada's broadcast industry. Revenue from PPV and VOD soared 41% to CAN$157.4 million ($151.3 million) in 2006.

The cable TV sector made CAN$447.8 million ($429 million) in pre-tax profits, down slightly from CAN$449.2 million in pre-tax profits in 2005. But the report notes that this segment's 22.2% profit margin was the second-best recorded in a decade.

Statscan indicated that advertising revenue for Canadian broadcasters rebounded last year after the resumption of National Hockey League telecasts. Canada's public broadcaster, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp., broadcasts NHL games every Saturday night.

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