Soft Canadian TV Ad Market Hits Shaw Communications

The Shaw Media division, which airs popular series like "Glee," "NCIS" and "House," saw sales revenue fall year-on-year as Canadian advertisers pull back in uncertain times.

TORONTO – Economic uncertainty has started to take its toll on Canada’s broadcast market, as cable giant Shaw Communications on Thursday revealed lower ad revenue from its Shaw Media broadcast division.

Calgary-based Shaw reported first quarter earnings of $202 million, against a profit of $17 million in 2010 due to year-earlier one-time charges.

Overall Q1 revenue jumped 19 percent to $1.28 billion, with cable revenue up 4 percent to $792 million, despite losing 22,768 basic cable customers in the latest quarter to November 30, and satellite TV revenue rising 1 percent to $209 million.

Shaw Communications recorded $299 million in first-time revenue from Shaw Media, which comprises the former TV assets of CanWest Global Communications Corp. acquired last year.

The cabler reported Shaw Media revenue on a pro forma basis was down 3 percent, compared to 2010 levels, due to a softening advertising market.

The Shaw Media division includes the Global Television over-the-air network, which airs popular U.S. shows like Glee, House and the Survivor franchise, and a string of cable channels like HGTV Canada and Food Network Canada.

Shares in Shaw Communications were down by 2 percent, or 47 cents, to $20.00 during early morning trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange, before clawing their way back to $20.30 mid-afternoon after the cable giant announced a dividend increase.

Shaw Communications faces stiff competition in western Canada from mobile phone giant Telus Corp, which offers TV services as part of a bundled offering.