Astral shopping for brand manager

Alain Bergeron to vacate Aug. 31 as co. unveils new identity

TORONTO -- Just as it launches a new brand identity, Canadian broadcaster Astral Media is shopping for a new top brand manager.

Alain Bergeron is to step down as chief marketing officer at the Montreal-based cable, pay TV and outdoor advertising group on August 31 after Astral last week replaced a decades-old solid-blue logo with a new and softer five-color brand image.

Astral, which is controlled by Montreal's Greenberg family, remains a major player in the Canadian media sector, operating a nationwide stable of radio stations, pay TV and cable TV channels, and an outdoor advertising business.

The new brand identity follows Astral bulking up and repositioning itself with a $1.1 billion purchase of the Standard Broadcasting radio group in 2007, to make it the biggest radio station operator nationally, and last year launching HBO Canada in partnership with rival Corus Entertainment.

But while aligning itself with major global entertainment brands like HBO, Disney and Virgin Media, Astral has stopped short of making a major TV play during recent industry consolidation.

Astral passed up on the former Chum Ltd. TV radio and TV assets in 2007, and then the former Alliance Atlantis Communications (AAC) cable channels eventually acquired by Canwest Global Communications Corp. and financing partner Goldman Sachs & Co.

The AAC channels were more recently picked up from Goldman Sachs by Corus-parent and cable giant Shaw Communications.

Now that Astral has unveiled its new corporate image, Bergeron insists it's time to bow out.

"I feel that I have achieved my mission here and want to take some time to reflect before embarking on the next stage of my career," Bergeron said Monday on news of his pending departure.

Astral will also operate publicly under the Astral name, while retaining Astral Media for its legal corporate name.