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Canadian publisher mulling TV

Licenses received would compete with CTV, CanWest

TORONTO — Newspaper publisher Torstar is looking to get into the TV biz.

The Toronto-based company has applied to the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) for three TV licenses to serve markets in Toronto, Hamilton and Kitchener. Torstar publishes major newspapers in all of those markets, including the Toronto Star, Canada’s largest daily.

In the past year, Canada’s two largest TV companies, CTV and CanWest, have hooked up with newspaper interests — the Globe and Mail and the Canadian newspapers of Southam Corp., respectively.

Torstar is pursuing the TV-newspaper convergence trend from the other side. Any licenses it receives would put it in direct competition with CTV and CanWest Global, as well as ChumCity.

Torstar prexy-CEO David Galloway said the application is consistent with Torstar’s strategy of building new businesses rather than buying them at a premium. And Torstar’s pre-existing news outlets in those markets can only aid the process.

Company is willing to hire separate staff for its broadcast and newspaper operations, noting the CRTC’s recently voiced concerns on the subject at the CTV and Global TV license-renewal hearings.