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Corus halves dividend amid ad revenue slump

The company plans to redirect cash to pay down debt

Corus Entertainment cut its dividend as it grapples with an ongoing decline in television advertising revenue
Corus Entertainment cut its dividend as it grapples with an ongoing decline in television advertising revenue (JHVEPhoto via Getty Images)

Corus Entertainment (CJR-B.TO) is cutting its dividend in half as it contends with an ongoing decline in advertising revenue.

The company announced it’s lowering its quarterly dividend to $0.03 per share and changing the payment schedule to more closely align with the end of its fiscal quarter. Its fiscal third quarter dividend will be paid out on March 31.

"We recognize that a market-competitive dividend is important to our shareholders and this remains a key priority as we navigate current macroeconomic factors,” Heather Shaw, executive chair at Corus, said in a press release late Monday.

“While we continue to make strategic investments in the business to drive future growth, this redeployment of capital from dividends is expected to be directed to debt repayment."

Similar to many media companies across North America, Corus has seen a pullback in ad dollars as advertisers keep a tight lid on spending in the current uncertain economic environment.

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The company reported an 11 per cent decline year-over-year in television advertising revenue and flat subscriber growth in its latest fiscal first quarter results, announced on Jan. 13.

“We have implemented a rigorous cost review to address recent revenue weakness while remaining focused on advancing our strategic plan and priorities,” Doug Murphy, president and chief executive officer of Corus, said in the earnings release.

At the time, Corus said it expected the weakness in television ad revenue to persist and delayed its announcement of the March dividend, signalling to investors that the payout was under review.

Late last week, the company conducted an unspecified number of job cuts at Global News. Unifor, the union representing media workers at Corus, said in a release that online journalists, video journalists and Global’s sports department in Edmonton were primarily affected.