End of a short era for E! network

CRTC okays sale of Hamilton and Montreal stations, while Red Deer signs off and Kelowna rebrands. Victoria's CHEK staffers raise $2.5 million, still fighting.


The CRTC on Friday sealed the fate of Canwest Global Communications’ secondary E! network by okaying the transfer of ownership of CHCH in Hamilton and CJNT in Montreal to Channel Zero.

Subject to certain conditions, Channel Zero received the regulatory go-ahead to acquire the local TV stations, with renewed broadcast licences, and to relaunch them with new formats during a planned operational switch-over after midnight on Monday.

Also around that time, the E! station in Red Deer, Alberta, CHCA, will sign off, and Kelowna, B.C.’s CHBC will morph into a Global Television station.

Elsewhere, around 40 employees at CHEK in Victoria on Friday submitted an eleventh hour bid to Canwest to acquire the E! station, after they raised $2.5 million to cover initial operating expenses.

The Jim Pattison Broadcast Group earlier secured a new supply of US network programming from Rogers Broadcasting for its three affiliate E! stations, CFJC, CKPG and CHAT, to kick in Sept. 1.

Despite the end of the E! network, which launched in 2007 as a rebrand of CH, Canwest will hang onto its E! Entertainment Networks program pipeline from Comcast as part of a multi-year deal. The E! programming is expected to air on the Global Television network and Canwest’s cable channels.

Canwest on Friday faced yet another deadline in talks with US bondholders and senior lenders as it attempts to recapitalize its $4 billion debt load and avoid bankruptcy protection. The broadcaster is expected to receive another extension from its creditors as it eyes a possible sale of its 50.06% stake in Australian broadcaster Ten Network Holdings as part of a possible debt-for-equity swap and opens talks with the CRTC on how to structure a debt refinancing plan with its US bondholders to comply with Canadian foreign ownership rules.

From Playback Daily