CRTC Grills CTV Boss Over CHUM Deal
May 1, 2007 at 5:57 AM (PT)
The CRTC's hearing on the CTVGLOBEMEDIA purchase of rival CHUM LTD. focused on why the Commission should allow the merged company to own two TV stations in several markets.
The CRTC normally only allows TV duopolies in cases where one of the channels is financially failing, but in the case of the CTV and CHUM stations, the deal would give the buyer the strong CTV and CITY-TV stations in TORONTO, VANCOUVER, EDMONTON, CALGARY, and WINNIPEG, while the company is spinning off the financially weaker A-CHANNEL stations in ONTARIO and VICTORIA, BC to ROGERS.
While CTV Pres./CEO IVAN FECAN told the panel that the CITY-TV stations are "teetering at the financial edge," CRTC Chairman KONRAD VON FINCKENSTEIN noted that while CITY-TV/TORONTO is the only profitable CITY station at the moment, none of the others can be classified as "failing"; he asked, "How do we justify [allowing the duopolies] and still retain any validity as a regulator who is applying its policies?" VON FINCKENSTEIN also challenged FECAN's assertion that the deal would result in a "stronger Canadian champion in media" by responding, "This idea of a national champion, one of the problems with it is that in theory it is wonderful but in practice it becomes a national predator."
The C$1.7 billion deal for CTV to acquire the CHUM radio and TV stations requires CRTC approval; the hearing continues today in GATINEAU, QC.