Q4 drags down Ten's yearly earnings

Financial crisis, Beijing Olympics take toll

SYDNEY -- Australian broadcaster Ten Network Holdings' full-year earnings slid 13% to AUS$215 million ($144 million) after suffering a fourth-quarter decline in earnings attributed to the global financial slowdown, chairman Nick Fallon said Thursday.

In the fiscal year ending Aug. 31, Ten's normalized annual net profit fell 24.7% to AUS$89.611 million, while group revenue, consisting of TV and out-of-home advertising remained flat at AUS$1.04 billion.

TV revenue fell just AUS$5million to AUS$826.2 million year-on-year, while TV earning (EBITDA) dropped 11% to AUS$209 million.

Ten Television CEO Grant Blackley said that the Beijing Olympics, broadcast by rival Seven network, took AUS$20 million in ad dollars away from Ten during August.

Majority owned by Canada's CanWest Global Communications, Ten is the third-ranked network here and primarily targets a 16- to 39-year-old audience. It forecast an earnings drop of 10% in June, due to what it said was a "softer" advertising market, but the decline was worse than expected.

Fallon would not provide further guidance on the state of the ad market or earnings forecasts for 2009, saying that "we are in unusual and unprecedented times."

"We are watching, as everyone is, what is going on the U.S., and we will manage our cashflow as best we can to ride this out," he said.

Fallon added that with a strong balance sheet, conservative gearing and strong cashflows, the network is well placed to "withstand the current contraction in the advertising market and position the company to take full advantage of eventual improvements in the external environment."

While its ad revenue share has slipped below last fiscal year's 30% share, it remains dominant in its target demo and plans to launch up to three digital multichannels in 2009.