The New Zealand TV and radio interests of CanWest have shown themselves to be better financial performers than the Ten Network, its bigger Australian associate.

CanWest Mediaworks yesterday reported a better than expected interim profit (net earnings amounted to $NZ14.6 million for the half). It is New Zealand’s second major radio operator and the number two TV network behind the struggling state-owned TVNZ, which last week reported a slump in earnings with worse to come as it pays the cost of a big redundancy program.

Mediaworks said TV revenues rose around seven per cent in the second quarter and earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) was up 14% for the six months thanks to a solid performance in radio ratings, cost controls and that second quarter jump in the TV business.

CanWest is “exploring options” for both Ten and Mediaworks and analysts say this result probably improves the chances of a good price being achieved for the NZ operations.

The strong market position in radio is a big attraction, while the TV operations are doing a lot better than TVNZ and News Corp’s Sky FTA and satellite businesses. In contrast Ten is really struggling to lift audience and ratings having made a slow start to 2007.

Analysts believe there will be an announcement on Ten by the end of April, with an announcement on Mediaworks two to three weeks later. CanWest owns 70% of the NZ business and 56.4% of Ten.

Mediaworks, like Ten, will carry the Rugby World Cup from France later this year and with the All Blacks raging favourites to win for the second time, it is expected to do wonders for profits.