Q3 earnings jump at Astral Media

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TORONTO -- Surging radio and TV revenue lifted Astral Media to higher third-quarter earnings, the Canadian broadcaster said Thursday, good news as it gets set to buy rival Standard Radio for CAN$1.1 billion ($1.04 billion).

Montreal-based Astral posted CAN$35.9 million ($34.1 million) for the three months ending May 31, compared with a profit of CAN $33.2 million in 2006.

Revenue came to CAN$169.3 million ($161.2 million), compared with a year-earlier CAN$156.2 million, as Astral saw business grow across its core TV, radio and outdoor advertising divisions.

TV revenue came to CAN$122.3 million ($166.5 million), against CAN$111.4 million in 2006, as TV subscription revenue increased by 9% and advertising revenue jumped 13%. Radio station revenue rose 5% to CAN$34.4 million, against a year-earlier CAN$33.1 million, and is set to grow more when Astral acquires Standard Radio from Toronto's Slaight family as part of a friendly takeover. The deal is awaiting regulatory approval.

Astral's outdoor advertising division saw revenue climb 8% to CAN$12.5 million ($11.9 million), from a year-earlier CAN$11.5 million.

Astral CEO Ian Greenberg told analysts during a conference call that, despite the pending Standard Radio deal, his company was still on the acquisitions hunt. "Do we still have an appetite? The answer is yes," Greenberg said.