Astral expects strong growth to continue


Montreal, - Astral Media Inc. told shareholders last week it expects to build on a record fiscal 2002 with a strong 2003.

Ian Greenberg, Astral's co-founder and president and CEO credited the company's pure-play strategy, high-quality assets, financial strength and its employees for the company's results.

No company has benefited more with the rollout of digital cable and satellite in Canada than Astral, which boasts assets like Viewer's Choice pay per view, The Movie Network, Moviepix, Family and others.

Subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) will prompt even more revenue growth, said the company.

Greenberg reiterated that Astral is targeting an organic increase in EBITDA for Fiscal 2003 in the range of 10% to 15%. Factoring in 10 months of results from the Telemedia radio properties it recently acquired as part of Astral EBITDA is expected to grow by more than 20% over fiscal 2002.

With strong cash flow and a virtually debt-free balance sheet, Astral remains receptive to further strategic acquisitions. "While by no means dependent on acquisitions for our growth, we have both the financial resources and the management team required to complete attractive transactions and successfully integrate new assets into our group", Greenberg added.

André Bureau, Chairman of the Board and former CRTC chair, outlined some of the key trends and issues facing Canadian broadcasters, including the need for the maintenance of the existing foreign ownership rules in broadcasting given the television and cinema industries' importance to Canada's economy and cultural identity.

Bureau also called for a solution to the current "regulatory redundancy" governing media mergers and acquisitions in this country.

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