TORONTO - Corus Entertainment Inc. (TSX:CJR.B) is possibly interested in buying some specialty channels from Canwest Global Communications Ltd. (TSXV:CGS) but not other parts of its media business, Corus CEO John Cassaday said Wednesday.
Cassaday made the comments to analysts in a conference call about his company's first-quarter financial results, which provided evidence that Corus experienced a much-needed rebound in advertising revenue in November.
Overall revenues from television and radio climbed to $222.3 million from $216.8 million, although the growth came from specialty TV channels..
"We have seen a turnaround in our advertising sales with a return to growth in the low single-digits," president and CEO John Cassaday told analysts in a conference call on Wednesday.
He expects the ad sales recovery will continue for the balance of the fiscal year, which ends in August.
Corus said its first-quarter profit, for the three months ended Nov. 30, rose 82 per cent from a year earlier to $73.9 million.
The Toronto-based television and radio company said its net earnings amounted to 91 cents per diluted share. The results were an increase from 50 cents per share or $40.6 million a year earlier.
Television revenue from specialty cable channels increased to $151.3 million in the quarter, up about $10 million from the year-earlier period.
Corus operates a broad array specialty cable channels, including YTV, Treehouse, W Network, and Cosmopolitan TV, as well as Movie Central and HBO Canada in western Canada.
The company has been pegged as one of a handful of investors interested in acquiring certain assets of Canwest, the Winnipeg-based television and publishing company that owns Global Television, the National Post and the former Alliance Atlantis specialty cable channels.
Cassaday told analysts that Corus is still interested in some of the Canwest's specialty channels, though he emphasized that he wouldn't be interested in other pieces of the company, which include an array of dailies in major Canadian cities in addition to the Post, a Toronto-based national paper.
"Nothing has changed from our previously stated position," Cassaday said.
"Our interest is restricted to certain specific specialty assets - period."
Cassaday declined to elaborate on which Canwest channels he would be interested in buying, though it's widely thought the company wants the highly lucrative channels that Canwest acquired from Atlantis Alliance in 2007, which include the HGTV home-improvement channel, Showcase and History Television.
Most of Canwest has been put under court protection from its creditors, but the unit comprising the former Atlantis Alliance business hasn't been put under the protection of the Companies Creditor Arrangement Act.
Canwest has said it expects to put its conventional television assets and newspapers up for sale.
In Corus' radio division, which includes well-known stations such as CKNW in Vancouver, CKOI in Montreal and Q107 in Toronto, revenues fell by about $4.5 million to $71 million.
Cassaday said the strongest advertising revenues came from Quebec, where the company has restructured radio operations, and in Ontario where he said there are signs of "a meaningful turnaround in consumer spending and confidence."
The announcement and call came ahead of the company's annual meeting in Calgary on Wednesday afternoon.
Shares in the company were four cents lower to $19.50 in morning trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange.