No deal, no explanation from CTV, Shaw

'I never really believed that it was genuine,' says rival broadcaster as one-dollar-each offer falls through.

A publicity stunt or a serious deal gone sour? That’s the question left in the air after CTVglobemedia this week said Shaw Communications backed out of a May offer to buy three of its stations – CKX in Brandon, Manitoba, and Ontario stations CKNX in Wingham and CHWI near Windsor – for $1 each.

‘Shaw Communications informed us this afternoon that they will not be proceeding with the purchase of CTVglobemedia’s television stations in Windsor, Wingham and Brandon,’ a CTVgm release said late Tuesday, hours after rival Canwest Global Communications sold two TV stations in Hamilton and Montreal to indie broadcaster Channel Zero.

Executives at Shaw were not available Thursday, and CTVgm declined additional comment. The two stations in Ontario are part of CTVgm’s A Channel group.

But according to one rival broadcaster, Shaw never appeared serious about the station purchases, and instead aimed to blunt the latest fee-for-carriage pitch to the CRTC by CTVgm and other broadcasters, which saw the money-losing stations held up as evidence that traditional broadcasters needed the extra revenue.

‘Nothing went wrong with the deal. I never really believed that it was genuine in the first place. You don’t make serious offers for serious businesses via a press release,’ the broadcaster said privately.

But Shaw’s defenders insist the pull-out came after the cable operator did due diligence on the three stations and discovered the slide in local automotive ad revenue in the southern Ontario TV market would continue.

The Shaw decision, while following a CRTC decision to deny the fee-for-carriage proposal for a third time, also comes ahead of another ruling by the regulator this coming Monday, when the Commission is expected to unveil a reconfigured and possibly more lucrative local programming improvement fund for broadcasters.

From Playback Daily