CTVglobemedia says it will close stations

CEO Ivan Fecan issues warning at bailout hearing

TORONTO -- Canada's top-rated broadcaster on Thursday threatened to close all its local stations unless the federal government bails out the conventional TV sector.

"Please understand this is not a cash grab or greed from a private broadcaster. This is real. We are not bluffing," Ivan Fecan, CEO of CTVglobemedia, told CRTC hearings into the future of conventional TV.

While applying to renew its CTV license for one year, Fecan urged the TV watchdog to cap cable rates to ensure that broadcasters secure a share of subscriber revenue.

CTVglobemedia already has signalled it will close two loss-making TV stations in Brandon, Manitoba, and Windsor and Wingham, Ontario in August, and cut jobs and morning shows at its secondary network of A Channels.

But Fecan went further Thursday, warning that all the A Channels will be closed down, and if necessary the main CTV network, if Canadian conventional TV does not receive a financial lifeline.

Rival Canwest Global Communications Corp. also rattled the begging bowl Thursday as it looks to sell or shutter its secondary E!-Canwest Global, which is struggling to stave off bankruptcy protection under a growing debt burden, asked the CRTC for the right to slash its local news coverage to 5 hours in small markets and 10 in major markets.

CTV proposes to provide 9.5 hours of local news in small markets, and 14.5 hours in larger markets as part of its own license renewal.

The CRTC hearings continue through May 11.
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