CRTC swats down CTVglobemedia offer

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TORONTO -- Canada's TV watchdog has rejected a belated offer by domestic media giant CTVglobemedia to spin off TV stations in Winnipeg, Calgary and Edmonton in a bid to secure regulatory approval for its acquisition of radio and TV broadcaster Chum Ltd.

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, in a May 11 letter, returned CTVglobemedia's proposal, indicating it was wrongly submitted after regulatory hearings into the CAN$1.4 billion ($1.26 billion) purchase of Chum wrapped two weeks ago (HR 5/12).

In an earlier letter to the CRTC on May 7, CTVglobemedia backtracked on a proposal to own and operate local TV stations in five major Canadian markets -- Toronto, Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary and Winnipeg -- after acquiring Chum.

That application ran counter to CRTC rules that bar domestic broadcasters from owning more than one TV station in any Canadian market. CTVglobemedia already has an exemption to own and operate two TV stations in Toronto and Vancouver.

During CRTC hearings into the Chum takeover, Canadian regulators told CTVglobemedia executives that granting three additional exemptions in Edmonton, Calgary and Winnipeg risked gutting their ability to referee the domestic TV industry.

In the May 7 letter, CTVglobemedia told the CRTC it no longer sought an exemption for Winnipeg, and would consider putting Chum's Alberta stations up for sale if rival CanWest MediaWorks was denied "local station status" in Calgary and Edmonton for its existing TV station in Red Deer, Alberta, as part of a separate application.

CanWest MediaWorks, in its own letter to the CRTC, argued that CTVglobemedia should not be allowed to revise its application for regulatory approval by spinning off Citytv stations after it had an opportunity to do so during earlier public hearings.

The CRTC is expected to rule on the Chum takeover within six months.




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