CTV seeks blessing for takeover

Offers to up benefits package by $23 million

TORONTO — CTVglobemedia has sweetened the pot in its bid to persuade Canada’s broadcast regulator to give its proposed takeover of Chum the greenlight.

The offer came at the Wednesday conclusion of several days of hearings into the proposed C$1.4 billion ($1.26 billion) takeover of the Toronto-based radio and television broadcaster, announced in July.

The transaction requires the regulator’s blessing, and a portion of the transaction value, generally 10%, is traditionally paid into a benefits package earmarked for indigenous production in order to offset the potential harm of consolidation on producers.

In its closing arguments, CTV offered to increase the size of its benefits package from $94 million to $117 million.

CTVglobemedia hoped to persuade the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission to allow it to own two terrestrial stations in several markets, including Toronto, Winnipeg and the Vancouver area, where both CTV and Chum operate. Regulations prohibit a broadcaster from owning more than one terrestrial channel in a given market, and CTV is loath to sell off those assets, considered Chum’s crown jewels.

CTVglobemedia argued that CanWest MediaWorks already owns more than one station in several markets (its CH channels) and that it needs the bulk in order to compete.

An official decision is not expected for some months, but CRTC topper Konrad von Finckenstein gave the idea a chilly reception at the hearings.

“I can see why it’s in your interests,” he said. “I’m not sure why it’s in the public’s interest.”

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