Rogers steps up to purchase CTV channels


Rogers Communications, Canada's largest cable company, on Monday said it will pay CAN$137.5 million ($119.5 million) for 10 channels that CTVglobemedia is spinning off in a bid to complete its CAN$1.4 billion deal for Chum Ltd.

The all-cash deal for the mix of over-the-air and cable channels is a necessity for CTVglobemedia, which must unload them in order to secure regulatory approval for its planned takeover of Chum.

Toronto-based CTVglobemedia, which already operates the CTV national network, said last July that it would sell a host of former Chum channels, including six A-Channel stations, to ease regulatory concerns around the issue of media concentration.

"This acquisition will both provide for diversity of local voices and give Rogers the scale to emerge as the fourth national English-language, over-the-air player together with CTV, CanWest and the CBC," CTVglobemedia president and CEO Ivan Fecan said Monday.

The sell-off of Chum channels comes ahead of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission's planned public hearings on the CTVglobemedia-Chum deal, which are scheduled to begin April 30.

The CAN$1.4 billion Chum deal was cleared last month by the Competition Bureau, a federal agency that weighs industry mergers and acquisitions on competition grounds.

The former Chum channels Rogers will purchase include the six A-Channel TV stations. One of the six is located in Victoria, British Columbia, with the rest based in the Ontario cities of Windsor, Wingham, London, Barrie and Ottawa.

Rogers also is purchasing CKX-Television, an over-the-air CBC affiliate in Brandon, Manitoba; educational broadcaster Access Alberta; and cable channels Canadian Learning Television and SexTV: The Channel.

Rogers spokeswoman Jan Innes declined comment on the CTVglobemedia deal before the CRTC considering its purchase of former Chum stations for regulatory approval.

Other industry deals awaiting CRTC approval include Montreal-based Astral Media's $1.2 billion purchase of radio station group Standard Broadcasting Corp. and the planned CAN$2.3 billion ($1.99 billion) purchase of Alliance Atlantis Communications by CanWest Global Communications Corp. and Goldman Sachs.