MONTREAL — Canuck telephone giant BCE is pledging C$230 million ($157 million) on local programming over the next seven years if the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) greenlights the takeover of web CTV. Commitment to Canadian production is the largest ever made to the CRTC.
Earlier this year, BCE acquired CTV for $1.6 billion (Daily Variety, Feb. 28), but the deal is still awaiting regulatory approval. According to CRTC, a company taking over a Canadian broadcaster has to develop and fund a package equal to 10% of the net’s purchase.
Hearings on CTV takeover will begin Sept. 18 in Hull, Quebec, and execs at BCE said they expect the CRTC to make its decision by year end.
The expense would come in addition to what CTV spends on Canuck programming. The web, Canada’s largest, doles out around $85 million annually for production. Of the $157 million BCE package, roughly 92% would be spent on direct programming.
Alain Gourd, president and CEO of BCE Media, said the deal will make CTV the biggest spender on local programming among private nets.
“The benefits will create an important and incremental body of priority programming, a minimum of 75 hours, without requiring any financing from existing funds,” Gourd said. “We expect the benefits package to have a profound impact on the broadcasting system, bringing to Canadian television the ideas, talent, creativity and a wealth of Canadian storytelling for years to come.”