Revenue gains drive Astral Q2

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TORONTO -- Canadian broadcaster Astral Media Inc. on Thursday posted higher second-quarter earnings on higher revenue.

The news came as Montreal-based Astral unveiled the terms of its previously disclosed takeover of radio giant Standard Broadcasting, and announced that it will buy a half-stake in Quebec music cable channel MusiquePlus.

Montreal-based Astral said earnings for the three months through Feb. 28 came to CAN $24.6 million ($21.4 million), up 9% from earnings of CAN$22.5 million in 2006.

Revenue at Astral Media rose 8% to CAN$149.9 million ($130.4 million), against a year-earlier CAN$138.5 million.

Separately, Astral said it will buy Standard Radio for CAN$1.08 billion ($939 billion) from Toronto's Slaight family, thus becoming Canada's largest radio broadcaster.

Astral will pay for company, which operates 52 radio stations nationwide, with CAN$880 million ($765 million) in cash and 4.75 million newly-issued class A non-voting shares valued at about CAN$200 million ($174 million).

Astral Media also said Thursday that it will pay CAN$34 million ($29.5 million) to purchase the 50% stake in cable channel MusiquePlus it does not already own from CTVglobemedia and Chum.

Both the Standard Broadcasting and MusiquePlus deals are subject to approval from the Competition Bureau and the Canada Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, Canada's radio and TV regulator.
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