Canadian Indie Broadcaster Corus, Astral Release Contrasting Q2 Results


The joint operators of HBO Canada, which airs "Game of Thrones" and "Boardwalk Empire" here, continue to face a soft advertising market.

TORONTO – It doesn’t happen often, but Canada’s two indie broadcast giants, Astral Media and Corus Entertainment, on Thursday unveiled contrasting second quarter earnings.

Toronto-based Corus Entertainment, facing a soft Canadian TV market and reduced kids merchandise sales, saw earnings for the three months to Feb. 28 plunge to $5.9 million, against a profit of $31.6 million in 2012.

The bottom line was also undercut by a $25 million debt refinancing charge taken during the latest quarter.

Corus' combined revenue fell to $183.7 million, compared to a year-earlier $205.6 million.

Montreal-based Astral, which is the subject of a $3.38 billion takeover bid by phone giant BCE, did better than rival Corus as it posted Q2 profits up 8 percent to $41.2 million, with overall revenue climbing 2 percent to $237.1 million.

Including transaction costs as BCE attempts to acquire the indie broadcaster, Astral’s Q2 earnings came to $38.3 million, against a year-earlier profit of $35 million.

Astral and Corus jointly operate HBO Canada here, and respective pay TV services.

Astral's subscriber fee revenue rose, even as its radio and TV advertising revenue fell slightly during the latest frame.

Astral is expected to shed a number of radio and TV assets before the CRTC, the country’s broadcast regulator, considers a second takeover application by BCE on May 6 during public hearings.

The revised application proposes to leave a $2.08 billion price tag for Astral.

The CRTC late last year rejected the first application by the Canadian phone giant to acquire Astral on grounds it would give BCE too great a share of the Canadian media audience.

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