CTV takeover of Chum won't be challenged

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TORONTO -- Canadian media group CTVglobemedia Inc. on Friday said that its proposed CAN$1.4 billion ($1.2 billion) takeover of domestic broadcaster Chum Ltd. will not be challenged by the federal Competition Bureau.

Toronto-based CTVglobemedia, which operates national network CTV, said it was told by the federal government agency that there were no grounds to block the Chum deal for fueling undue industry consolidation.

The news comes a day after Konrad von Finckenstein, the newly installed chairman of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, said that upcoming hearings on CTVglobemedia's pending acquisition of Chum as well as hearings for other possible takeover deals, will consider new "common ownership" rules to guard against media concentration in Canada.

"In light of this proposed (Chum) transaction, the commission considers that this is the appropriate time to seek public comment on the effectiveness of the current policy," the CRTC chair said in a statement.

"In addition to comments relating to the existing policy, the commission is prepared to consider alternative mechanisms, including appropriate safeguards, which will better fulfill the commission's objectives of ensuring that Canadians receive a diversity of editorial voices within a healthy and competitive market," von Finckenstein added.

CTVglobemedia currently runs 21 conventional CTV television stations, with full or part ownership of another 15 specialty channels.

Pending regulatory approval from the CRTC, CTVglobemedia's takeover of Chum will entail significant overlap with the target company's 12 local TV stations, led by City-TV channels in Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton and Winnipeg, another 21 specialty TV channels and 33 radio stations.

Other deals on the CRTC docket include Montreal-based Astral Media's proposed CAN$1.2 billion ($1.03 billion) purchase of the country's largest radio station group, Standard Broadcasting, as well as CanWest Global Communications Corp. and Goldman Sachs & Co.'s CAN$2.3 billion ($1.98 billion) deal for Alliance Atlantis Communications Inc., which includes its half-stake in the lucrative "CSI" franchise.

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