Mar 4, 2013 / 4:16 pm
The Competition Bureau approved Bell's proposed $3.38-billion takeover of Astral Media Inc. on Monday, but is forcing the company to sell several of its pay and specialty television channels.
Bell will, however, keep eight of Astral's TV channels including the Movie Network, which includes HBO Canada, and TMN Encore as well as the French-language SuperEcran, CinePop, Canal Vie, Canal D, VRAK TV, and Z Tele.
In the Okanagan Astral owns:
- SunFM, AM1150 and EZ Rock in Kelowna
- SunFM in Vernon
- SunFM and EZ Rock Penticton
- EZ Rock Summerland
- EX Rock Osoyoos
- EZ Rock Salmon Arm
The Competition Bureau said without the sale of Astral's (TSX:ACM.B) pay and specialty television channels, the deal would likely have led to higher prices and reduced choices for television programming.
"Consumers who pay for television programming are looking for greater choice, more innovative product offerings, and reasonable prices," said John Pecman, interim competition commissioner.
"Today's agreement is essential to preserving choice for consumers and ensuring continued and effective competition in this area."
The proposed deal is still subject to review by the CRTC. The broadcast regulator rejected the deal last year, but Bell has since revised its proposal in hopes a revamped proposal will be approved.
Corus Entertainment chief executive John Cassaday called the deals transformative for his company. Corus (TSX:CRJ.B) will buy the 50 per cent ownership interest in Teletoon and two Ottawa-based radio stations, CKQB-FM and CJOT-FM that it does not already own from Bell.
In addition, Corus has also signed a deal with Bell and Shaw Media to buy each of their respective 50 per cent interests in the French-language specialty channels Historia and Series+.
Separately, Corus has signed a deal with Shaw Media to buy the remaining 49 per cent stake in ABC Spark. As part of the agreement, Corus will sell its 20 per cent stake in Food Network Canada to Shaw Media.
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