Rogers to buy A-Channel, four other CTVglobemedia assets

The Easter Monday surprise with a $137.5 million price tag would make Rogers Canada's fourth national English language broadcast player. But Sunni Boot doesn't 'really see the stations taking off.'

Early today, Rogers Broadcasting (a Rogers Media subsidiary) announced its plan to acquire conventional and specialty television services from CTVglobemedia for a cash payment of $137.5 million (both companies are Toronto-based). The transaction will only be completed if the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission ends up approving the pending acquisition of CHUM assets by CTVgm.

Valued at $137.5 million, the all-cash transaction includes the following television assets: the A-Channel station group of six over-the-air conventional broadcast television stations (CIVI Victoria, CHWI Windsor, CKNX Wingham, CFPL London, CKVR Barrie, CHRO Ottawa); CKX-Television, an over-the-air conventional CBC affiliate based in Brandon, Man. (broadcasting CBC, local and syndicated programming to western Manitoba and eastern Saskatchewan); ACCESS Alberta, the provincial educational television broadcaster for Alberta (available over-the-air and via cable, satellite and telco distributors); CLT (Canadian Learning Television), Canada’s only national educational television specialty service (available via cable, satellite and telco distributors); and SexTV: The Channel, an English-language digital specialty service (available across Canada via cable, satellite and telco distributors).

‘The acquisition of these 10 television services will significantly expand our television operations and solidify our position as an important participant in the Canadian television industry. This also complements our strong position in Canadian radio, sports broadcasting and publishing,’ said Rogers Broadcasting president Rael Merson in a statement. Added CTVgm president/CEO Ivan Fecan: ‘This acquisition will both provide for diversity of local voices and give Rogers the scale to emerge as the fourth national English-language over-the-air player together with CTV, CanWest and the CBC.’

The proposed sale strikes Sunni Boot, president/CEO of Toronto’s ZenithOptimedia, as a smart move on the part of CTVglobemedia, she tells MiC. ‘Obviously, Rogers are no fools, so if they’re willing to pay that price tag, they must see value.’

As a media strategist, Boot sees the deal as both ‘good news and bad news. Those stations are well, well down the consideration list, but they are excellent to put in the portfolio because they do tend to balance our costs. For us to have another player, an independent company, is a good thing. We like that. But I don’t really see the stations taking off. There’s not a lot of growth in the conventional area. So really this is about getting share. And will they be able to get share based on pricing? Yes.’

Scott Stewart, an account director with Toronto-based Genesis Media, tells MiC the deal will mean some content challenges. ‘Just to see another company enter the market, any wisp of smoke that offsets the whole commoditization – for me, that’s a good thing,’ he says. ‘With the Alberta stations changing hands so many times, you’ve got to wonder about the actual value of them in a portfolio. But this is a good step into TV. They’ll remain an efficient buy. The issue is how are they going to source content? I don’t understand how a third-tier station like this will be able to really compete out there. With CHUM, you had existing content they could shuffle or spill out to other stations, but now they’re starting over.’