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24/7 talks fall off rails

Planned Toronto media complex dead

TORONTO — Talks to build a C$200 million ($161.7 million) TV studio and newspaper complex on Toronto’s waterfront have faltered, with both sides now refusing to concede that they were ever discussing such a scheme in the first place.

There have been widespread reports since November that the Toronto Economic Development Group (TEDCO) has been kibitzing with CanWest Global Communications about building a complex on city-owned land on Toronto’s dilapidated waterfront. The project, given the unofficial name 24/7, would house the Winnipeg-based media company’s Toronto TV and newspaper operations.

TEDCO was going to kick in $40.4 million, and CanWest Global was to pay back the public funds by leasing back the property.

But now 24/7 appears to be a no-go. Local reports said that CanWest was asking for too many government subsidies.

“We can’t confirm or deny discussions with CanWest,” said TEDCO prexy and CEO Jeff Steiner.

He noted that his organization is continuing to work to revitalize the nearly 30-mile strip of waterfront in Toronto’s east end on which 24/7 was to go.

The deal is not to be confused with the $175 million film mega-studio deal, otherwise known as the Portlands project, that the city inked with Toronto Film Studios last summer for another spot in the same vicinity, Steiner added. The Portlands project is proceeding apace, and is in the due diligence phase.

Calls to CanWest Global for comment were not returned, but VP corporate affairs Geoff Elliot has been quoted declining to confirm or deny ongoing negotiations.

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