Rogers set to buy 10 CTV channels

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TORONTO -- Rogers Communications, Canada's largest cable company, on Monday said it will pay CAN$137.5 million ($119.5 million) for 10 channels that CTVglobemedia is spinning off in a bid to complete its CAN$1.4 billion deal for Chum Ltd.

The all-cash deal for the mix of over-the-air and cable channels is a necessity for CTVglobemedia, which must unload in order to secure regulatory approval for its planned takeover of Chum.

Toronto-based CTVglobemedia, which already operates the CTV national TV network, said last July that it would sell a host of former Chum channels, including six A-Channel TV stations, to ease regulatory concerns around the issue of media concentration.

"This acquisition will both provide for diversity of local voices and give Rogers the scale to emerge as the fourth national English-language, over-the-air player together with CTV, CanWest and the CBC," CTVglobemedia president and CEO Ivan Fecan said Monday.

The sell-off of Chum channels comes ahead of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission kicking off public hearings on the CTVglobemdia-Chum deal on April 30.

The CAN$1.4 billion Chum deal was cleared last month by the Competition Bureau, a federal agency that weighs industry mergers and acquisitions on competition grounds.

The former Chum channels Rogers will purchase include the six A-Channel TV stations, comprising one in Victoria, British Columbia, with the rest based in the Ontario cities of Windsor, Wingham, London, Barrie and Ottawa.

Rogers also is purchasing CKX-Television, an over-the-air CBC affiliate in Brandon, Manitoba; educational broadcaster Access Alberta; and cable channels Canadian Learning Television and SexTV: The Channel.

Rogers spokeswoman Jan Innes declined comment on the CTVglobemedia deal before the CRTC considering its purchase of former Chum stations for regulatory approval.

Other industry deals awaiting CRTC approval include Montreal-based Astral Media's $1.2 billion purchase of radio station group Standard Broadcasting Corp. and the planned CAN$2.3 billion ($1.99 billion) purchase of Alliance Atlantis Communications by CanWest Global Communications Corp. and Goldman Sachs.
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