Astral Media's Q3 profits tick upward

Canadian b'caster recently required Standard Radio

TORONTO -- In the face of a growing economic downturn, Canadian broadcaster Astral Media on Wednesday reported slightly higher earnings in the wake of its acquisition of Standard Radio.

Montreal-based Astral posted a profit of CAN$39.9 million ($32.5 million) for the three months ending Aug. 31, just up from CAN$38.1 million in 2007.

Quarterly revenue rose sharply to CAN$229.9 million ($187 million), compared with a year-earlier CAN$160.6 million after Astral completed the Standard acquisition to become Canada's biggest pay TV and radio station operator.

Full-year 2008 earnings at Astral climbed to CAN$177 million ($144 million), against a year-earlier CAN$131.2 million, on revenue of CAN$865.4 million ($703 million), up sharply from CAN$640.5 million in 2007.

Over the full-year, Astral said its TV revenue rose 5% to CAN$497 million ($404 million), while radio revenue leapt 156% to CAN$296.3 million.

Astral president and CEO Ian Greenberg told analysts during a conference call that the broadcaster is well-placed to withstand "an increasingly challenging environment."