CBC buys chunk of Doc Channel from Corus

CRTC accepts assurances that digichannel will remain independent from the Ceeb, quelling fears of a docu-monopoly.

The CRTC has approved a change of ownership at The Canadian Documentary Channel, passing control of the Category 1 digichannel to CBC, which now holds an 82% stake and takes over for Corus Entertainment.

The feds okayed the deal, valued at $1 million, last Friday following a review in which critics expressed concern that the consolidation would give the Ceeb a monopoly on the market, leading to less variety and fewer opps for docmakers. CBC already does heavy trade in docs through its main network and CBC Newsworld.

But regulators accepted the Ceeb’s assurances that the CDC will operate with due independence from execs on Front Street – and that, although a new license will be issued, the channel will continue to abide by its current commitment to spend at least 50% of its acquisition budget on third-party projects. The channel will also continue to focus on long-form docs, different from the often-shorter CBC shows.

CBC previously owned 29% of the CDC. The minority owners of the channel are Barna-Alper Productions, CineNova Productions, the NFB, Omni Film Productions and a numbered company. Corus Entertainment says it backed out in order to focus on programming for children and women.

This story first appeared in Playback Daily.