Cogeco Proposes Changes, Spinoffs For Corus Quebec Acquisitions
August 4, 2010 at 5:52 AM (PT)
COGECO's plans for the radio stations it is acquiring from CORUS ENTERTAINMENT in QUEBEC include a new regional news operation, spinning off two stations for resale, and seeking a waiver to allow it to own more stations in MONTREAL than presently allowed, the company told the CRTC in filings made public TUESDAY (8/3).
COGECO, which is paying C$80 million for the 11 stations, has proposed establishing an independent news agency for its own stations and other companies' stations, based at French Talk CHMP (FM 98.5)/MONTREAL. The station would produce news around the clock, and would offer a regional nighttime show and weekend morning public affairs show to all of its stations. The move would, the company asserted, allow French Oldies CHLN/TROIS-RIVIERES, CHLT/SHERBROOKE, and CJRC/GATINEAU-OTTAWA (SOUVENIRS GARANTIS) to move their target audience to Men 25-54 and increase local programming, including public affairs shows in mornings and at noon.
"We want to put information radio in QUEBEC back on top," said COGECO DIFFUSION VP RICHARD LACHANCE. "Since COGECO is a business that is close to its people, it is a natural fit for us to make local information and local interest content the heart of our strategy. The decision to include independent stations in the regions and community stations in the agency aligns with that, and we think this is great news for radio in QUEBEC."
The company has also asked for an exception to the CRTC's common-ownership policy in MONTREAL to allow the company to own three French-language FM stations with the addition of CHMP. "The distinctiveness of the bilingual MONTREAL market and the importance of keeping talk radio like FM 98.5 strong in order to ensure the sustainability of French-language spoken-word radio in QUEBEC justify our request for an exception," said LACHANCE. "Without that exception, it will be next to impossible for COGECO to indefinitely support regional spoken-word radio stations that have been running heavy deficits for many years."
COGECO is proposing spinning off French AC CJEC (RYTHME FM) and French Top 40 CFEL (102.1 CKOI)/QUEBEC CITY, and proposed to convert French Hot AC CKOY (104.5 CKOI)/SHERBROOKE into a 100% retransmitter for French Sports CKAC-A/MONTREAL with no local advertising.
The company is also offering an "exceptional contribution" of 9% of the sale price (C$7.2 million) to several organizations, including MUSICACTION, FONDS RADIOSTAR, the COMMUNITY RADIO FUND OF CANADA, and others if the deal is approved in its entirety.
A hearing on the plans will take place on SEPTEMBER 28th.