Rogers buys Citytv stations

Media and telecommunications giant Rogers Communications is buying the Citytv stations in Toronto, Winnipeg, Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver from CTVglobemedia, which is in the process of buying them from CHUM Limited.

The sale comes just days after Canada’s broadcast regulator, citing rules against concentration of ownership, said CTVgm would have to sell the Citytv stations if it wanted CHUM. CTVgm’s media assets include the 21-station CTV television network and the Globe & Mail newspaper.

CTVgm had struck a deal to sell CHUM’s A-Channel television network to Rogers, but the regulator said that wasn’t good enough.

Rogers currently owns a number of specialty TV channels available over the air or by cable only. Its other interests include radio stations, magazines, mobile and landline phones, cable TV service and internet service.

CHUM Limited’s television operations comprise the five major-market Citytv stations, six small-market A-Channel stations, CKX-TV in Brandon and 21 specialty TV channels available on cable. It also operates 33 radio stations across Canada.

From an announcement last night:

The transaction is subject to Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (“CRTC”) and Competition Bureau approval. This transaction is also subject to the satisfaction of the other conditions of approval for CTVglobemedia’s acquisition of effective control of CHUM Limited as per the CRTC’s June 8th, 2007 decision.

and

“Rogers came in with a very strong offer on a pre-emptive basis, which will see the Citytv stations in a fine home in a timely manner. This outcome is good for both the businesses and the stations’ employees,” said Ivan Fecan, CTVglobemedia Inc. President and Chief Executive Officer and CEO of CTV Inc.

“We know Rogers to be skilled operators of television assets and believe they will be good stewards of these important urban brands.”

The all cash transaction is valued at approximately $375 million and is expected to close late in 2007.

It will be fascinating to see what changes Rogers makes to the Citytv operations. For one thing, I would expect to see synergies with their all-news radio operations in Toronto and Vancouver.

The CHUM radio stations, on the other hand, will presumably become closely associated with the CTV television stations in their markets. In Toronto, CHUM has been co-branding with Citytv for many years, including some simulast programs. So big changes lie ahead.

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