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Astral Media Inc.'s President and CEO Ian Greenberg poses before the company's annual shareholders meeting in Montreal, December 9, 2010.

SHAUN BEST/Reuters

Astral Media Inc. saw its profits grow in the first quarter with stronger revenues in its television and outdoor advertising divisions.

The Montreal-based media company posted net earnings of $55.8-million, or $1 per share, an increase from $53.1-million, or 92 cents per share, a year earlier.

Revenue increased to $271.1-million to $267.1-million, beating analysts' estimates which put revenue at $240-million, according to a poll by Thomson Reuters.

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Astral television operations had revenue growth of three per cent with higher TV subscription revenues. Astral added 9,000 new pay-television subscribers for The Movie Network and Super Ecran in the quarter.

"Once again, our balanced asset mix and geographical footprint enabled us to display continued consolidated growth at all levels, achieved in spite of the challenging economic and advertising conditions in which we operate," chief executive Ian Greenberg said in a news release.

Radio operations saw revenue fall 4 per cent.

Astral is Canada's largest pay and specialty TV broadcaster as well as the largest radio company with 83 radio stations in 50 Canadian markets, and the third-largest outdoor advertising company.

The company provides pay TV services such as The Movie Network, which has almost two million subscribers. It has lengthy deals with U.S. cable channels HBO and Showtime for exclusive programming to broadcast on its pay TV services such as The Movie Network.

Shares in Astral Media were up 43 cents to $35.19 in opening trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

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