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Sirius XM Canada in red despite record revenue

File photo of Sirius XM Canada CEO Mark Redmond.

Deborah Baic/The Globe and Mail

Sirius XM Canada added to its subscriber base and its pile of cash, but was unable to turn a profit despite record revenue in the third quarter.

The Toronto-based satellite radio company posted a $4-million loss, compared to a $9-million loss a year ago. It pulled in $64-million in revenue, 8 per cent higher than the same quarter last year at $59-million. Its number of paying subscribers increased by 13 per cent from the same time last year, to 1.5 million.

"We are being integrated into more vehicles and are poised to increasingly benefit from the expected rise in auto sales to pre-recession levels in Canada," said chief executive officer Mark Redmond. "We remain committed to managing costs and optimizing operating efficiencies, which should result in continued improvement in our financial performance."

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The company did make money however, with its earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization coming in at $9.6-million, up 64 per cent from last year. The company prefers to focus on this figure, because the losses stem largely from non-cash charges.

Sirius redirected some of that to its bank account, which now has $42-million in it waiting to be deployed.

The company's licence is up for renewal for the first time since it was issued in 2005, and its executives will ask the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission this fall to cut its mandatory contributions to artistic development funds by about 90 per cent.

While consistently unprofitable, the company has paid $52-million to the CRTC in the last seven years. That's almost $20-million more than Canada's 400-plus commercial radio stations paid, in total, over the same time period. The CRTC takes money from radio broadcasters, and redirects it toward programming that helps recording artists produce content.

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