Canadian Phone Giant BCE Buys Astral Media for $3.38 Billion

4:56 AM PST 03/16/2012 by Etan Vlessing

The blockbuster deal is the latest bid by a domestic telecom or cable giant to snap up Canadian broadcast assets to push down their digital pipelines.

TORONTO – Another Canadian indie broadcaster has fallen to a telecom or cable giant.

BCE on Friday said it has signed a deal to acquire Astral Media, which is controlled by Montreal’s Greenberg family, for $3.38 billion.

The deal, subject to regulatory approval, hands the phone giant control of Astral’s TV, radio and outdoor advertising businesses after the company celebrated its 50th anniversary.

The acquisition also gets BCE, which already runs the CTV conventional network and a string of popular cable channels, into the pay TV business.

Astral owns The Movie Network, a premium channel with long-standing output deals with HBO and Showtime.

The move is also being seen as BCE ramping up its content distribution presence in Quebec, where Astral is headquartered.

Astral Media president and CEO Ian Greenberg is to join the BCE boardroom on the closing of the cash and stock deal.

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