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CanWest's Kiwi ops show 55% earnings jump

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CanWest Global Communications Corp.
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WINNIPEG - CanWest Global Communications' New Zealand subsidiary, CanWest MediaWorks (NZ) Limited, reported a 55% improvement in its consolidated earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) for the fiscal year ending August 31, 2004.

CanWest MediaWorks NZ reported consolidated EBITDA of NZ$60.9 million in fiscal 2004, excluding costs related to its July 2004 IPO, compared to NZ$39.1 million for the previous fiscal year. Consolidated revenues increased by 8% to NZ$228.7 million in F2004 from NZ$212.1 million in fiscal 2003. CanWest owns a 70% interest in CanWest MediaWorks NZ, which publicly listed on the New Zealand Stock Exchange in July 2004.

In Canadian dollar terms, CanWest MediaWorks NZ's consolidated revenues increased approximately 16% from $168.5 million in fiscal 2003 to approximately $195 million in the current year. Consolidated EBITDA increased 64% from $30.7 million last year to approximately $50.6 million in fiscal 2004.

Brent Impey, CEO of CanWest MediaWorks NZ, credited the strong Kiwi economy and solid advertising market for the increase in revenues at both the company's radio and television operations, but cited a financially disciplined management team for delivering the outstanding EBITDA results.

"RadioWorks performance was rock solid and is a reflection of the strength of our radio brands and their careful market positioning," said Impey. EBITDA for RadioWorks was up 25% to NZ$32.4 million from NZ$25.9 million the previous year.

"TVWorks had an outstanding twelve months, reporting a 120% EBITDA improvement to NZ$29.2 million, up from NZ$13.2 million in the previous year," he continued. These results were based upon a revenue increase of 6% to NZ$127.1 million from NZ$119.9 million the year earlier.

Impey also pointed to the spectacular turnaround at TVWorks' youth-oriented, music-themed channel - C4 - which went from a NZ$7.1 million EBITDA loss in fiscal 2003, when it was previously branded TV4, to a modest profit position in fiscal 2004. "The success at C4 is a reflection of the endorsement of the brand from both the target audience of 15 to 29 year old New Zealanders and the advertisers who are trying to reach them."

Impey added that TVWorks' main channel, TV3, also reported significant EBITDA improvement over the course of the year, increasing 41% to NZ$28.7 million from NZ$20.4 million. "TVWorks financial success is based upon a number of factors including a strong showing from our news franchise, 3 News, as well as an increase in total audience among the target demographic of 18-49 year olds, who are drawn to hit programs such as the CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and its popular spin-off CSI: Miami," added Impey (which is produced by another Canadian company, Alliance Atlantis). TV3 has also secured the rights to the CSI: New York for the 2005 season.

"The performance of our New Zealand operations is another in a steady stream of positive reports coming from our operations in the South Pacific, which are likely to continue into the new fiscal year," said Asper, referring to strong results also being shown by the company's Australian operations.

"Looking ahead we see continued growth in New Zealand, with further strengthening ratings and ad share at TV3 and C4, and increased market share at RadioWorks with the addition of an FM frequency in the Auckland market."
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