Quebecor swings to Q2 loss due to one-time charges

Rival Bell Media, releasing its own overall results, saw its second quarter revenue rise following its parent BCE acquiring Astral Media.
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Quebecor CEO Robert Depatie uttered the word “catastrophic” Thursday.

But he wasn’t referring to Sun News Network after it was denied mandatory carriage by the CRTC.

Depatie instead used an analyst call after the release of Quebecor’s second quarter results to rail against U.S. mobile giant Verizon getting preferential treatment by Ottawa to enter the Canadian market.

“The potential consequences could therefore be catastrophic to regional new entrants such as Videotron as four prime spectrum blocks could end up being shared between only three players, resulting in new entrants ending up empty-handed,” Mr. Dépatie said.

As for Sun News Network, the newly-installed Quebecor CEO said his company needed more time to assess what the CRTC decision would mean for his company.

Depatie, after all, has much on his plate, as Quebecor on Thursday swung to a second quarter loss due to one-time charges.

The Montreal-based media giant posted a loss of $45.1 million, compared to a profit of $65.5 million in the second quarter of 2012, even as revenue rose just under 1% to $1.09 billion.

The swing to a loss was due to unusual items, including a higher amortization charge, higher financial expenses, restructuring charges and a $130-million non-cash hit from the valuation of financial instruments.

Videotron’s revenues rose 5% to $678 million, which helped offset the news media segment’s revenue falling 10% to $229 million.

Also Thursday, BCE released its second quarter results, which included Bell Media revenues rising 4.7% to $559 million on subscriber revenue growth from higher specialty TV rates from cable and satellite TV operaters.

Having just acquired Astral Media, Bell Media saw ad revenue rise 0.8%, compared to year-earlier levels, as TSN and RDS did better during the latest quarter with the NHL’s regular season schedule extended into the second quarter.

Bell Media’s conventional TV stations also recorded higher advertising sales year-on-year.

This growth was offset by a year-over-year decline in digital advertising revenues and softer radio advertising sales.