Revenue up, profit down at TVA Group


MONTREAL - TVA Group Inc. has reported a fourth-quarter profit of $17.4 million, down from $21.5 million a year ago amid weakness in its publishing business and losses at the newly acquired Toronto 1 television station and new speciality broadcaster Mystere.

The Quebec-based subsidiary of Quebecor Inc. said Monday it earned 56 cents per share for the three months ended Dec. 31, compared with 66 cents per share a year earlier.

Quarterly operating revenue increased to $106.4 million from $97 million.
"The launch of our new digital television channel, Mystere, and the acquisition of the Toronto 1 television station during this quarter are two milestone events that will support TVA's growth in the television market in both Quebec and the rest of Canada," stated Serge Gouin, president and chief executive of TVA Group.

"In addition, during the first quarter of 2005 we will also officially launch another digital channel, Argent, that will be covering the entire field of economic and business news, as well as personal finance."

For all of 2004, TVA earned $51.4 million or $1.61 per share on revenue of $358 million. That compared with a 2003 profit of $54.5 million or $1.65 per share on revenue of $340.9 million for the biggest North American private producer and distributor of French-language TV and publisher of French-language magazines.

"TVA Network's programming lineup also continues to excel, with 25 of 30 Quebec's most-watched programs according to BBM PeopleMeter data for 2004. On the strength of these results, excluding Toronto 1 and Mystere, the television sector has reported 3.4% EBITDA growth, despite a significant increase in programming costs. So we are very pleased with our results, despite the lower profitability of our publishing business, which was heavily impacted during the quarter by, among other factors, reduced government support for Canadian content and by significantly higher distribution costs," added Gouin.

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