WTN changes hands

Canada's Women's Television Network is at the center of a sweet deal, switching owners from Shaw Communications to Corus Entertainment.
March 21, 2001

After the second round of a competitive bid process that narrowed potential buyers down to four finalists, Canadian media company Moffat Communications sold WTN (the Women’s Television Network) to Corus Entertainment for CDN$205 million (US$130.1 million). Says John Cassaday, president and CEO of Corus, ‘We felt a need to strengthen ourselves in the adult – and primarily female demographic – as a complement to CMT (Country Music Television) and our new digital channels, the Canadian Documentary Channel and Land and Sea. We are now well-positioned with a strong presence in two dynamic growth segments within specialty television – children’s programming and programming focused on women.’

WTN was placed on the market after Moffat was sold to rival cablecaster Shaw Communications for CDN$1.2 billion (US$762 million). Cassaday comments, ‘The content asset [of WTN] was not on strategy for [Shaw], and as a result they decided to divest it.’ After selling its 50% interest in The Family Channel to Astral Media for CDN$126.9 million (US$80.6 million), Corus was well-positioned to pick up WTN. Corus completed both sale and purchase within 24 hour.

Finalization of the WTN/Corus deal is pending CRTC approval. The Canadian regulatory body is currently conducting a cable policy review, and will subsequently consider the WTN application. Cassaday hopes to have the application filed within 30 days of cable policy approval. He is eager to have WTN on board, ‘We know the management well. They are all outstanding executives in the specialty television area and all of them are welcome additions to the Corus management team.’

Says Kerry Morgan, director of corporate communications for Corus, ‘At this point, we’re not planning any changes [to WTN's programming]. It would be presumptive, as we don’t have approval for the sale yet. When we finalize the acquisition, we’ll make decisions about programming operations, etcetera. That’s when we’ll integrate [WTN] into our business.’

Although Cassaday is also focused on the approval of the transaction, he suggests a few areas in which Corus will augment WTN programming: ‘There are a number of things that we bring to bear: our animation expertise through Nelvana, our movie-buying clout through Movie Central; our focus on understanding the children’s market, and translating that to parents – specifically moms; and our expertise in packaging… for example, we feel that a dynamic on-air presence is an important branding element and we think we can add some value [to WTN] in that area as well.’

About The Author
Daniele Alcinii is a news reporter at realscreen, the leading international publisher of non-fiction film and television industry news and content. He joins the rs team with journalism experience following a stint out west with Sun Media in Edmonton's Capital Region, and communications work in Melbourne, Australia and Toronto. You can follow him on Twitter at @danielealcinii.