Three Canadian TV stations sell for $1

Shaw acquires stations from CTVglobemedia

TORONTO -- There's always the danger in an industry downturn that distressed media assets will start selling at fire sale prices. That moment has arrived in Canada.

Cable operator Shaw Communications late Thursday offered to buy three local TV stations that gush losses from CTVglobemedia, for a buck apiece. The broadcaster, which previously said the stations would be closed if no buyer was found, said yes.

"We've accepted their offer of $1 per station. Cable is rolling in money and can obviously afford to underwrite the losses," CTVglobemedia president and CEO Ivan Fecan said as he bid Shaw good luck with CKX-TV in Brandon, Manitoba, and stations in Wingham and Windsor, Ontario.

Calgary-based Shaw has made the same offer to Canwest Global Communications Corp. for its five E!-branded conventional TV stations that also stand to be sold or shuttered.

A spokesman for Canwest Global on Friday offered no comment on the Shaw overture as no formal offer for the E! stations has yet been received.

One dollar isn't much money, but it's the best offer CTVglobemedia and Canwest Global have apparently seen during the recession and a continuing TV ad slump. And Shaw believes it is going to make up the losses at conventional TV stations countrywide one way or the other.

CTV and Canwest Global this week asked the CRTC to force cable and satellite TV operators to pay as much as $251 million annually for carriage of local TV station signals.

Cable operators told the CRTC that the broadcasters have drummed up a crisis in conventional TV to secure subscriber revenue from profitable content distributors like Shaw and rival Rogers Communications.