Canwest delays decision on E! stations

Potential buyers completing due diligence soon

TORONTO -- Canwest Global Communications has delayed its decision on whether to close five E!-branded TV stations until the end of summer after finding a potential buyer.

Winnipeg, Manitoba-based Canwest Global had set an end-of-March deadline to sell or shutter the struggling local TV stations. But interim president Peter Viner told employees in an internal memo dated March 27 that potential buyers have come forward and will complete due diligence in the coming weeks.

The money losing channels secure programming in part via a supply deal with Comcast Entertainment Group's U.S.-based E! Networks.

"Any decision regarding the future of these stations is unlikely to come until the end of the summer," Viner said.

Canwest Global also continues to renegotiate its growing debt load with bankers and lobby the federal government and the CRTC for regulatory relief to deal with a deepening advertising downturn during the current recession.