TV network profits plunge » Media in Canada

TV network profits plunge

New CRTC data shows profits declined by more than 90% last year.

The poor financial showing of Canada’s private conventional networks will likely set the tone of the upcoming licence renewal hearings, as new CRTC data shows profits declined by more than 90% last year.

Broadcasters including CTV, Canwest Global, Rogers’ Citytv and Quebec’s TVA saw profits slide from $112 million in 2007 to $8 million before interest and taxes last year, according to the Tuesday report released by the federal regulator.

The growing recession, declining TV ad sales and waning viewership are all issues the networks will bring in front of the commission in April as they seek regulatory relief. The CRTC figures – for the fiscal year up until the end of August – do not include the last four months of 2008 when the global economy took a turn for the worse.

Debt-ridden Canwest last week put its five E! stations up for sale, in an effort to balance the books, and warned that the stations will be shut down should a buyer not emerge.

CRTC numbers also show that revenues from the sale of local advertising remained at the same level as last year, while national advertising sales declined from $1.5 billion to $1.4 billion in 2008.

Operating expenses increased to $2.1 billion – with the acquisition and production of programming yielding most of the expenses.

Investment in Canadian programming was mostly unchanged at $619 million, according to the CRTC, with $32 million attributed to news programs, while $90 million went towards general-interest programming. Drama received $88 million in 2008.

From Playback Daily