Shaw, Canwest deal approved by CRTC

The CRTC late Friday ruled the takeover of Canwest Global Communications' TV assets by Shaw Communications can proceed.
October 25, 2010

The CRTC late Friday ruled the takeover of Canwest Global Communications’ TV assets by Shaw Communications can proceed.

‘We are satisfied that this transaction will generate substantial benefits for the Canadian broadcasting system,’ CRTC chairman Konrad von Finckenstein said, while insisting the $2 billion takeover deal would give Canwest Global stable ownership after it emerges from creditor protection.

‘The broadcasting system also stands to gain from Shaw’s commitment to support local and independent programming and the transition to digital television,’ he added, alluding to a $180 million tangible benefits package to be spent over seven years.

That said, the CRTC also announced Friday that it will hold hearings in May 2011 ‘to study the wider implications of the growing number of integrated media companies in the Canadian broadcasting system’ emerging from the current period of industry consolidation.

Next step for Canwest Global is a bit of housekeeping before an Ontario court allows it to emerge from creditor protection and be acquired by the western Canadian cable giant.

Calgary-based Shaw is to take control of 11 Global Television over-the-air stations countrywide and a stable of specialty channels that includes Food Network Canada and HGTV Canada.

The CRTC green-light for Canwest Global takeover, besides further consolidating the Canadian broadcast industry, promises a $180 million tangible benefits package to help drive indie TV production countrywide.

Shaw looks to have received a 10% discount on the benefits package to reflect the cable operator taking Canwest Global out of creditor protection, and spending obligations left over from the 2007 takeover of Alliance Atlantis Communications.

As part of the Shaw social benefits package, TV news production will get a shot in the arm after Shaw, during recent CRTC hearings, pledged to create two-hour morning TV news shows in Toronto, Regina, Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Montreal and Halifax, and create full-time jobs in the process.

Canwest Global last year canceled a number of morning TV news shows to cut costs while it passed through court-directed creditor protection.

The pending Shaw/Canwest Global tie will also propel domestic TV networks like Canwest Global’s Global Television further into the hands of domestic cable operators and satellite TV operators, after Rogers Communications acquired Citytv stations and cable giant Quebecor Media operating Quebec’s TVA network.

After ruling on the Shaw/Canwest Global deal, the CRTC is next to consider a proposed takeover of CTV by phone giant BCE as part of a $3.2 billion deal.

That BCE-CTV deal is expected to be completed in mid-2011, in time for the CRTC’s proposed public hearings on the possible impact of industry consolidation.

About The Author
Managing editor with realscreen publication, an international print and online magazine that covers the non-fiction film and television industries. Darah is an award-winning journalist who has spent over two decades covering a wide range of issues from real estate and urban development to immigration, politics and human rights, primarily with The Vancouver Sun. Prior to joining realscreen, she was editor of Stream Daily, realscreen's sister publication covering the dynamic global digital video industry. She also served a stint as a war reporter in Afghanistan for television and print, and was a national business blogger with Yahoo Canada.