Revenue booms for Canadian cable

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OTTAWA -- Canadian cable and pay TV channels are enjoying their biggest growth in five years, the country's TV watchdog reported Wednesday.

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission said that total 2006 revenue for Canada's specialty, pay and pay-per-view television channels and video-on-demand services rose 12.4% to CAN$2.5 billion ($2.25 billion), compared with revenue of CAN$2.2 billion in 2005 -- the highest year-to-year jump in five years.

The regulator said that pre-tax profits industry-wide were CAN $572.7 million ($515.5 million) in 2006, compared with a year-earlier CAN$551.1 million.

Canada's most profitable niche channels remain analog offerings, led by regional sports channel Rogers Sportsnet with pre-tax profits last year of CAN $48.6 million ($43.8 million), and Teletoon Canada, the country's cable cartoon channel with pre-tax profits of CAN$41.9 million ($37.8 million).

The growing strength of Canadian niche channels has increasingly led terrestial broadcasters to acquire them. Domestic broadcaster CanWest Global Communications and equity partner Goldman Sachs & Co. recently bought cable channel broadcaster Alliance Atlantis Communications for CAN$2.3 billion ($1.99 billion), while CTVglobemedia picked up cable and terrestial TV channels belonging to Chum Ltd. for CAN$1.4 billion ($1.26 billion).
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