Quebecor earnings decline in Q1

But Cable revenue rises 11% on higher customer growth

TORONTO -- Quebec media group Quebecor Inc. on Wednesday saw its first quarter earnings plunge as higher cable revenue offset falling sales and profitability at its newspaper division.

Montreal-based Quebecor posted earnings of CAN$57.7 million ($49.5 million) for the three months to March 31, against a profit of CAN$428.4 million in 2008 when the group also recorded a CAN$399.7 million gain as it divested its Quebecor World publishing division.

Total revenue during the latest quarter increased 2.2% to CAN$896.2 million ($767.5 million), against a year-earlier CAN$877.1 million. Cable revenue rose 11% to CAN$477.5 million ($409 million) on higher customer growth, while broadcast revenue rose 3%, to CAN$109 million ($93.3 million).

But that was offset by a fall in revenue from the newspaper business to CAN$245.5 million ($210 million), against CAN$278 million in 2008, on collapsed ad sales.

Quebecor said it will merge its Canoe online property with its Sun Media newspaper group to streamline costs and share digital content.