Canada's TV broadcasters are back in the black.
After the industry posted losses of $116.6-million in 2009, last year private television regained its footing with $11.5-million in profits before interest and taxes (PBIT), according to numbers released on Thursday by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission.
Revenues for all the private broadcasters - Bell Media (formerly CTVglobemedia), Quebecor Media, Rogers Media, and Shaw Media - were up 9 per cent in 2010 to $2.15-billion.
The growth was driven by a return to spending by national advertisers. While local ad sales were roughly flat last year, national ads were up more than 10 per cent to $1.46-billion across the industry. This is crucial for broadcasters that depend on advertising for the health of their businesses, since they do not yet receive fees from cable and satellite companies for carrying their stations, the way specialty channels do.
The debate over whether those fees should be paid was raging in 2009, when the CRTC released the numbers showing losses for the industry. And it continues: BCE Inc., while formerly opposed to paying fees to broadcasters, has changed its tune since buying the CTV broadcast assets. Rogers Communications Inc. continues to oppose those fees, and is taking the battle to the Supreme Court, following a decision by the CRTC saying broadcasters could begin to negotiate to be paid.
For the first time, the CRTC also revealed results for the individual broadcasters.
CTVglobemedia (which finalized its sale to BCE this year) led the pack in 2010 with $933.6-million in revenue for its conventional TV business (driven by the flagship network CTV, and including the money-losing A Channel stations). When its specialty business is added (which includes top sports channel TSN or RDS in French, CTV News Channel and the Comedy Network among others,) CTVglobemedia pulled in total revenue of $1.88-billion from its TV business last year.
Shaw Communications Inc. , which bought the CanWest TV assets last year, brought in $495-million in revenue for its Global network of TV stations, down slightly from the year before. Its specialty TV business (including The History Channel and Food Network Canada among others) was up slightly however, contributing to total revenues of $1.03-billion for Shaw.
Rogers drew $247-million in revenue from its CITY-TV and OMNI network of stations in 2010. Including its specialty business (with Sportsnet, OLN and others) Rogers TV revenue was $587.2-million in 2010.
And Quebec media giant Quebecor Inc. , which owns the broadcaster TVA, made $252.2-million in conventional TV revenues. Adding on its specialty services (including French-language 24-hour news channel LCN and TVA Sports,) Quebecor's TV revenues totalled $359.1-million last year.
Media companies also spent more on Canadian programming on both broadcast and specialty stations, after results in 2009 showed Canadian spending was flat. Investment in Canadian programming was up 12.6 per cent last year.
Specialty television also saw a bump in both revenues and PBIT in 2010. The specialty TV industry had a total of $3.46-billion in 2010, driven by increases in both advertising and subscriber fees paid by cable and satellite providers. Total profits before interest and taxes (PBIT) for the specialty TV business jumped to $877.3-million, from $728.6-million in 2009.