Canwest shuts down two E! stations

Broadcaster faces $3.6 billion debt

TORONTO -- Canadian broadcaster Canwest Global Communications is to rebrand one of its E!-branded TV stations and close two others as it continues to shed costs and assets to stave off bankruptcy protection.

Winnipeg-based Canwest Global on Wednesday said CHBC-TV in Kelowna, British Columbia will morph into an affiliate of its Global Television network.

And CHEK-TV in Victoria, B.C. and and CHCA-TV in Red Deer, Alberta will close on August 31 after they failed to secure buyers after being placed on the auction block.

In June, the broadcaster sold another two TV stations -- CHCH-TV in Hamilton and CJNT-TV in Montreal -- with a $12 price tag, plus debt and other obligations.

All five channels were part of Canwest Global's secondary E! network now being phased out as the broadcaster grapples with a $3.6 billion mountain of debt and a continuing TV ad slump.

Canwest Global's E! network since 2007 offered a mix of local and U.S. series in primetime and library programming from the Comcast Entertainment Group's U.S.-based E! Entertainment channel as part of its daytime and weekend schedules.

Canwest Global is expected to divert the E! Entertainment programming to its Global Television network and cable channels.

As it has shopped its E!-branded TV stations over the last six months, Canwest Global has also received a series of reprieves from its senior lenders and U.S. bondholders as it attempts to recapitalize the company and restructure its balance sheet.