Canadian spending on U.S. fare grows in '07


TORONTO -- Canadian broadcasters' appetite for U.S. network series continues to grow at the expense of homegrown fare, the country's TV regulator reported Tuesday.

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission said that private broadcasters spent $722 million on foreign, mostly American, programming in 2007, 4.9% higher than the CAN$688.3 million invested in 2006.

Canadian programming expenditures, by contrast, fell 1.2% to $616 million in 2007, compared with a year-earlier $623.7 million.

Canadian broadcasters are big spenders at the annual Los Angeles Screenings as they use U.S. dramas, comedies and reality shows to drive primetime advertising and audience gains.

As it released its annual financial summary for private Canadian free, over-the-air TV stations, the CRTC said that pretax profits jumped last year to $112.9 million, compared with earnings of $91 million in 2006.

The regulator said private broadcasters enjoyed a pretax margin of 5.2% in 2007, compared with a year-earlier 4.24%.

On the revenue side, the private Canadian broadcasters last year generated $2.2 billion in advertising sales, little changed from 2006. The TV stations saw local advertising sales grow 3.3% to $387.9 million, while national advertising sales remained consistent with 2006 at $1.5 billion for last year.