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CBC to raise coin by selling transmitters

Cash-strapped net to focus on programming

MONTREAL — Canuck pubcaster the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. (CBC) announced Tuesday that it is set to sell off its system of transmitters in a deal that would net the cash-strapped Canadian TV network several hundred million dollars. The sale is part of new president and CEO Robert Rabinovitch’s plan to take the pubcaster out of all peripheral businesses and concentrate spending on programming.

The CBC is seeking to sell its 608 transmission towers, 750 transmission sites and 2,500 transmitters and to exit the business of providing broadcast delivery and other voice/data transmission services. But the net is making it clear that any buyer will have to commit to providing all over-the-air transmission services to the CBC without affecting program delivery or service to Canadians. The CBC is bound by the Broadcast Act to ensure that all Canadians have access to its TV network.

“Selling this large infrastructure should free up more resources for programming,” said Rabinovitch. “We’ll also gain greater flexibility that will allow us to explore different methods of program delivery, such as satellites and the Internet. We must continue to focus on our primary objective: programming. Signal delivery may be more efficiently delivered through other vehicles in conjunction with the private sector.”

A number of companies have already approached the CBC about buying the transmission assets. Company will set up a competition, with the process set to finish by the spring of next year.

The CBC receives an annual operating grant of C$760 million ($513 million) from the federal government and has an overall annual budget of $810 million. The government funding has dipped by about $270 million over the past five years, which is why the pubcaster has to find new sources of revenue.

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