Canwest is closing two E! stations

The broadcaster is shedding its secondary free, over-the-air network.

Canwest Global Communications is closing two E!-branded local TV stations and rebranding another as a Global Television affiliate as the broadcaster finally sheds its secondary free, over-the-air network.

Following a review of its E! channels begun last February, Canwest Global said it will shutter CHEK-TV in Victoria, B.C. and and CHCA-TV in Red Deer, Alberta by August 31, and return their broadcast licenses to the CRTC. And Kelowna’s CHBC-TV will continue as a Global Television channel.

Two other E! stations, CHCH-TV in Hamilton and CJNT-TV in Montreal, were earlier conditionally sold by Canwest Global to indie broadcaster Channel Zero for $12.

The closure in Alberta will result in a marginally reduced supply situation in the region, Florence Ng, VP of broadcast investments at ZenithOptimedia tells MiC, adding that because there’s an abundance of TV inventory in BC, the closure of the station in Victoria will not have much impact on the market.

‘The reduction in supply could also be mitigated by the softness of the economy. This provides an opportunity for the lower tier stations to be competitive in their pricing to gain share,’ says Ng. She also says the closures are not likely to affect pricing in the TV market, nor advertisers’ decisions to buy the medium.

Canwest Broadcasting president Peter Viner in a statement said ‘a number of parties’ expressed interest in the Kelowna, Victoria and Red Deer stations, but none produced a firm business plan or financing to acquire the stations before August 31, when their current broadcast licenses expire.

‘From the outset, we said that closing stations would only be considered as a last resort. We recognize that the decision to close CHCA (in Red Deer) and CHEK will negatively impact the employees of those stations and the communities that those stations have served so well,’ Canwest Broadcasting president Peter Viner said in a statement. The two station closures will result in the loss of around 80 jobs.

Eliminating its secondary E! network is part of a larger plan by Canwest to shed costs and assets to deal with a mounting debt load and a TV advertising downturn.

The broadcaster also continues crunch talks with senior lenders and US bondholders to recapitalize the company and stave off bankruptcy protection.

From Playback Daily