Business briefs – August 7

Bell Canada (TSX:BCE) is taking the federal broadcast regulator to court to stop the country’s big networks from charging cable and satellite companies for their TV signals, the Globe and Mail reported Thursday.

Bell taking CRTC to court

TORONTO — Bell Canada (TSX:BCE) is taking the federal broadcast regulator to court to stop the country’s big networks from charging cable and satellite companies for their TV signals, the Globe and Mail reported Thursday.

Bell, which owns Canada’s largest satellite service, known as Bell TV, alleges in documents filed with the Federal Court of Appeal that the broadcast regulator has overstepped its jurisdiction and has asked a judge to intervene.

The move comes after the CRTC said in May it would let large conventional networks, such as CTV and Global Television (TSX:CGS), negotiate with cable and satellite carriers on compensation for signals.

If an agreement on compensation for the networks could not be worked out, the matter would be sent to an arbitrator.

WestJet profits drop sharply

CALGARY — WestJet Airlines Ltd. (TSX:WJA) says its profits plunged by nearly two thirds during the second quarter, a period the Calgary-based airline’s chief executive described as one of the worst his industry has ever seen.

“Unfortunately, our consumer-driven economy isn’t a pretty place for any discretionary spend company, as consumers are deploying the hunker-down and wait out the storm mentality,” chief executive Sean Durfy told a conference call.

On top of the financial woes, the outbreak of the H1N1 flu was the “last thing that the airline industry needed,” as Canadian travellers stayed away from popular travel destinations in Mexico, where cases of the virus were first reported this spring.

WestJet’s profits during for the three months ended June 30 were $9.2 million, or seven cents per share, down sharply from $26.8 million, or 21 cents per share in the same 2008 period.

Stantec profits inch up

EDMONTON — Second-quarter profits at Stantec Inc. (TSX:STN) edged up to $22.3 million from year-ago $22.1 million as revenue rose 13 per cent.

The Edmonton-based company said its earnings amounted to 49 cents per share, up a penny from the prior-year period.

“Our performance to date in 2009 is a direct reflection of the stability of our business model and our employees’ ability to react to and take advantage of the opportunities that exist in a changing market,” president and CEO Bob Gomes said.

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