What Piracy? Bell Revenue Goes Up, Dividends Rise

We look at another corporation to see if things are as gloomy as FairPlay Canada suggests. Seems things are going fine with Bell.

Bell Canada is one of the major corporations behind the Fairplay Canada coalition. They seek new powers to censor the Internet. They say that if Canada’s regulators don’t implement Internet censorship with no court oversight, piracy will finish off the film and television industry. After all, they are suffering so much right now with alleged streaming supposedly running rampant in the country.

The difficulty is that the industry doesn’t seem to be suffering that much. In February, we reported on an industry-wide study that shows that the industry is not only not suffering, but the fact that things have never looked better.

Of course, that is only one industry-wide independent study. What if there is a possibility that something went wrong with the methodology and the sky is really falling? Well, we took a look at how things are looking for another corporation who operates television broadcasting. In that case, we looked at the Jim Pattison group. It turns out, 2017 is currently their best year ever.

For proponents who really really truly believe the industry is about to die any day, maybe that is also a fluke. Maybe the study might be wrong and that television broadcasting corporation just so happens to be doing well and that it was just a massive coincidence. Really, critics might have real good gut feeling that the sky is still falling and that Internet censorship without court oversight must be implemented yesterday before the whole industry falls into ruination.

OK, let’s look at how things are looking at Bell Canada. After all, they are one of the chief organizations that are demanding Internet censorship in the first place. As it turns out, the organization released some financial information on how things are doing.

In the fourth quarter 2017 report, Bell Canada states, “Net earnings of $617 million with net earnings attributable to common shareholders of $575 million, or $0.64 per common share; adjusted net earnings of $684 million up 2.5%”

“5.1% service revenue growth and 4.5% higher adjusted EBITDA with stable margin” Bell says.

Bell further states, “CTV was the most-watched television network among total viewers in the fall broadcast season with 7 of the top 10 programs, and 10 of the top 20 programs, including the top 3 new programs: Young Sheldon, The Good Doctor and The Indian Detective.”

According to Bell, even radio listening is up: “Bell Media remained Canada’s top radio broadcaster in fall 2017, reaching an average audience of 17.4 million listeners, up from 17.1 million last year, who spent approximately 74 million hours tuned in each week. ”

Things are also looking good online as well: “Bell Media continued to lead in digital media among Canadian broadcast and video network competitors, reaching 67% of the digital audience in Q4 with 21 million unique monthly visitors, average monthly time of 2.1 billion minutes spent on the sites, and 399 million videos viewed.”

As a result, Bell seem to feel that the cash flow is going well enough to shower their shareholders with higher dividends: “MONTRÉAL, Feb. 8, 2018 /CNW Telbec/ – BCE Inc. (TSX: BCE) (NYSE: BCE) today reported results for Q4 and full-year 2017, provided financial guidance targets for 2018, and announced a 5.2% common share dividend increase to $3.02 per year.”

So, an interesting read to say the least. Seems things are looking pretty good for TV after all from Bell’s perspective.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Google+.

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