Canada's CHEK-TV saved from closure

Last-minute deal sees employees, investors buy broadcaster

TORONTO -- Around 45 jobs have been saved after employees at Victoria, B.C.-based CHEK-TV secured an eleventh-hour deal to buy the local TV station.

CHEK-TV, which launched on air in 1956, was set to be closed Monday by Canwest Global Communications Corp.

Following marathon negotiations, the employees and a group of investors bought CHEK-TV for an undisclosed nominal price, Canwest Global indicated.

"Many dedicated individuals on both sides of the table came together and the result is that it has preserved jobs and service in the community," Canwest Global president and CEO Leonard Asper said.

"One week ago, we thought that this station was going to close and today we have a result that is beneficial for all parties," he added in a statement.

Canwest Global has recently been selling off loss-making local TV stations for between $1 and $12 as it phases out its secondary E! network to focus on the main Global Television network.

Canwest Global is to provide leased space and support services to ensure a smooth transition for CHEK-TV as the employees and investors group secure regulatory approval to assume the broadcast license.

The current broadcast license expired on August 31, and negotiations between CHEK-TV investors group and Canwest Global went into overtime as the current owner sought to ensure the employees could finance the purchase and succeed on their own.

The employee-driven bid for CHEK-TV included around $2.5 million raised to secure new programming and run the local TV station after Canwest Global stepped away.