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Corus CEO says women are still all the rage

TORONTO - Corus Entertainment Inc. (TSX:CJR.B) chief executive John Cassaday says the media company sees plenty of opportunity to grow in the popular female-skewed speciality TV channel market as advertisers push to sell more products to women.

TORONTO - Corus Entertainment Inc. (TSX:CJR.B) chief executive John Cassaday says the media company sees plenty of opportunity to grow in the popular female-skewed speciality TV channel market as advertisers push to sell more products to women.

"Even within the broad segment of women-targeted networks there's lots of opportunity," Cassaday said in an interview Tuesday.

"I'm sure there will be a young girl-oriented kids stations in the future as we begin to see greater segmentation and TV starts to look more like the cereal aisle."

Cassaday helped open Corus' new Toronto-based broadcast headquarters Tuesday, consolidating 11 different facilities throughout the city under one roof.

Corus Quay, on Toronto's waterfront, brings together 24 television services, three radio stations and more than 1,100 employees.

A growing number of those operations are leaning more towards female audiences.

Cassaday has become a champion for a new kind of women's movement — one on the television screens where Corus has become a leader in channels aimed squarely at females.

It owns handfuls of femme-themed channels including Cosmo, targeted at 18 to 25-year-olds, and Viva, more for the baby boomers. Then there's its W brand, which has both a main channel and a movie-themed channel, and Dusk, once known as the destination for horror movies before it got a makeover as the place for suspense movies and TV shows.

Cassaday said despite the growing line-up of female-skewed stations he doesn't see the market being oversaturated.

"I still think there's lots of room to grow on the women's demographic," he said.

"There's a recognition that women are the CEO of the household, and as a result more and more purchase decisions which are traditionally the domain of men have now moved to women."

Cassaday points to the automotive industry, which he said is just starting to take notice of how important a role women take in buying the family vehicle, and in response are buying more commerical spots on the women's channels.

Overall, Cassaday said advertising revenues have remained "very robust" for both radio and television as the Canadian economy plows ahead, but that next year still remains uncertain.

"Our visibility is good through December and then after that we will have to see. I think it will depend on whether the economy continues as strong as it has been in the last several months," he said.

"From where we stand right now, we are quite optimistic."

In the next three years, Cassaday said Corus will search for new bolt-on and tuck-in acquisitions, quite like its purchase of SexTV and Drive-In Classics, the two speciality channels it morphed into W Movies and Sundance branded channels.

Cassday said part of the objective will be to build those brand concepts further, as he is a firm believer that familiarity drives frequent viewing, naming the addition of HBO Canada as another popular newcomer to Canadian televisions.

In the meantime, Corus' new facility will enhance its technical capabilities through advanced digital technologies.

"Corus Quay gave us the opportunity to transform the operational and technological processes that underpin our business," Cassaday said.

The company announced later Tuesday that it's teaming up with Supernova Interactive so launch an integrated social network with a mandate to recommend new independent music for play on Corus radio stations.

The initiative has already been launched on the company's Power 97 in Winnipeg and 99.3 The Fox in Vancouver and will expand to other Corus stations in coming months, the company said.

Cassaday said Tuesday that the sale of 11 Corus stations in Quebec effectively pays for the new headquarters, which was estimated to have cost $90 million to $100 million.

The $80-million sale of the stations to Montreal-based Cogeco (TSX:CG) requires approval from the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, which began hearings into the deal on Tuesday in Montreal.

Corus shares were unchanged at $21.30 on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

 
 
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