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Canadian broadcasters increase foreign programming $$

Canadian broadcasters have felt the effects of the recession in the form of declining advertising revenues for their over-the-air broadcast stations.  This has been made evident in the CRTC's publication of financial data for selected companies the fiscal year ended August 2009.  

CTVglobemedia Inc. and Canwest Media Inc. – the two largest private OTA broadcasters – filed results indicating year-over-year ad revenue decreases of 6% and 9%, respectively. 

At the same time that broadcasters experienced decreased advertising revenues, CTV and Canwest increased programming expenditures by 5% and 8%, respectively.  Since programming expenditures represent some 80% of their total operating expenses, it is difficult to offset the decline in revenues through cuts in other expenses.

Expenditures on foreign programming increased, while those on Canadian programming decreased.  This widened the spending gap between foreign and Canadian programming expenditures.  In 2009, CTV spent $1.82 on foreign programming for every dollar spent on Canadian, while Canwest spent $2.12 on foreign programming for every dollar spent on Canadian. The chart below illustrates the relative levels of programming spending for each company in 2008 and 2009.

Canada’s main public broadcasters, CBC, continued to spend the vast majority of its programming budget on Canadian content.  However, CBC's English language stations also increased spending on foreign programming, from $26 million in 2008 to almost $40 million in 2009 - an increase of 52%.

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