CTV Unloads Three TV Stations for $3

Canadian cabler takes troubled properties amid retrans spat
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CALGARY, ALBERTA, CANADA: Canadian cable company Shaw Communications has agreed to buy three TV stations from CTVglobemedia for $1 each. The stations--one in Manitoba and two in Ontario--are said to be money losers, and the deal came around as the cable company and the network butted heads over retransmission fees.

“I think it’s great," said Ivan Fecan, president and CEO of CTVglobemedia, parent company of CTV, The Globe and Mail newspaper and other properties including 27 TV stations. “We’ve accepted their offer of $1 per station. Cable is rolling in money and can obviously afford to underwrite the losses. Good for them. I’m sure they will live up to the existing conditions of license placed on these stations which is wonderful news for the employees and for the people of Windsor, Wingham and Brandon,” the communities where the stations are located.

CTV had planned to shut down the stations and lay off the news staff of 118 people in March, All Headline News reported. TV stations in Canada are suffering from the same revenue implosion occurring in the United States. AHN said revenues at the Windsor station were down by more than 50 percent over the last two years. Meanwhile, Shaw remains healthy and in buying mode. CEO Jim Shaw said he’d pay a likewise price for troubled TV stations belonging to CanWest Global Communications.

The divestitures came as cable companies and networks appeared before Canada’s communications regulatory agency to argue about retransmission, which networks say they need to survive. Shaw says networks are “overstating their financial woes,” The Globe and Mailsaid. Broadcasters say small-market stations are no longer viable.

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, Canada’s equivalent of the FCC, has proposed creating a fund to help pay for local programming at stations in markets of fewer than 1 million people. Under the proposal, cable and satellite carriers would have to contribute one percent of their revenues, generating between $60 million and $70 million. Broadcasters there say the sum is not enough to avert the financial problems plaguing small stations. – Deborah D. McAdams