Canwest deal approved

The CRTC has approved Shaw Communications' takeover of Canwest Global Communications' TV assets.

The CRTC late Friday ruled the takeover of Canwest Global Communications Corp’s TV assets by Shaw Communications can proceed.

‘We are satisfied that this transaction will generate substantial benefits for the Canadian broadcasting system,’ CRTC chairman Konrad von Finckenstein said while insisting the $2 billion takeover deal would give Canwest Global stable ownership after it emerges from creditor protection.

‘The broadcasting system also stands to gain from Shaw’s commitment to support local and independent programming and the transition to digital television,’ he added, alluding to a $180 million tangible benefits package to be spent over seven years.

That said, the CRTC also announced Friday that it will hold hearings in May 2011 ‘to study the wider implications of the growing number of integrated media companies in the Canadian broadcasting system’ emerging from a current period of industry consolidation.

Next step for Canwest Global is a bit of housekeeping before an Ontario court allows it to emerge from creditor protection and be acquired by the western Canadian cable giant.

Calgary-based Shaw is to take control of 11 Global Television over-the-air stations countrywide and a stable of specialty channels.

As part of the Shaw social benefits package, TV news production will get a shot in the arm after Shaw, during recent CRTC hearings, pledged to create two-hour morning TV news shows in Toronto, Regina, Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Montreal and Halifax, and create full-time jobs in the process.

Canwest Global last year cancelled a number of morning TV news shows to cut costs while it passed through court-directed creditor protection.

The pending Shaw/Canwest Global tie-up will also propel domestic TV networks like Canwest Global’s Global Television further into the hands of domestic cable operators and satellite TV operators, after Rogers Communications acquired Citytv stations and cable giant Quebecor Media operating Quebec’s TVA network.

After ruling on the Shaw/Canwest Global deal, the CRTC is next to consider a proposed takeover of CTV by phone giant BCE as part of a $3.2 billion deal.

That BCE-CTV deal is expected to be completed in mid-2011, in time for the CRTC’s proposed public hearings on the possible impact of industry consolidation.

From Playback Daily