The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has approved BCE’s takeover of CTVglobemedia.
The regulator on Monday gave its okay to BCE, the Canadian phone giant, acquiring the national TV network and a stable of specialty channels, after recent public hearings.
“We are pleased that BCE has addressed our questions regarding how this transaction would contribute to the vitality of the Canadian broadcasting system,” CRTC chair Konrad von Finckenstein said in a statement.
“BCE will provide stability to the CTV Television Network. It will also invest [CDN]$245 million in the Canadian broadcasting system, of which more than $140 million will be allocated to new Canadian television and radio programming,” he added.
This clearing of its final regulatory hurdle hands BCE control of Canada’s largest TV network for the second time, and provides the phone giant with content to push down its varied consumer platforms, including wireless phone.
BCE is acquiring a 85% stake in CTV that it does not already own for $1.3 billion from The Woodbridge Company Limited, the Ontario Teachers Pension Plan and Torstar Corporation.
Including assumed debt, the takeover deal is valued at $3.2 billion, and includes a tangible benefits package that totals $245 million over seven years in industry-wide expenditures.
The transaction booty for indie producers will include $100 million for programming “of national interest,” including drama and comedy series, documentaries and shows that promote Canadian culture.
Besides the top-rated CTV TV network, BCE is also picking up around 30 specialty channels, including TSN and MTV, and 34 radio stations.
The greenlight from the CRTC is the latest after a spate of industry consolidation that includes Shaw Communications acquiring the former Canwest Global Communications Corp.’s TV assets, and rebranding them as Shaw Media.
BCE is expected to shortly close the mega-deal for CTV and complete a post-merger management shakeup that will see the exit of key broadcast executives like Ivan Fecan, Paul Sparkes, Dawn Fell and Alon Marcovici.
Fecan, who led CTV for 17 years, planned to retire in 2012, but brought his departure forward in the wake of the BCE takeover deal.
CTV execs remaining with the BCE-era broadcaster for continuity include Rita Fabian, Rick Brace and Phil King.
Their immediate duties include preparing CTV for the upcoming Los Angeles Screenings, and CRTC hearings on license renewals and vertical integration issues.
(From Playback Daily)