CanWest sells two TV stations

Company continues to stave off bankruptcy

Cash-strapped CanWest Global Communications is selling two money-losing TV stations as it continues its attempts to stave off bankruptcy.

The Winnipeg-based broadcaster said Wednesday that it has been given yet another extension in its discussions with a committee of noteholders that hold C$761 million ($671 million) in outstanding debts. It now has until July 31 to reach a recapitalization agreement.

CanWest has sold CHCH in Hamilton, Ontario, and CJNT in Montreal to Toronto-based cable company Channel Zero, which owns the Silver Screen Classics and Movieola webs.

Both stations were part of the five-station E! Network that CanWest has been trying to unload for months to cut its $3.5 billion debt and focus on its main Global Network.

Meanwhile, rival broadcaster CTVglobemedia’s deal to sell three stations to Shaw Communications for a buck a piece has fallen apart.

Shaw is walking away from that deal, reportedly because the stations’ balance sheets are in even worse shape than expected.

The news from the country’s two top broadcasters underlines the fragile state of the TV biz.

Both have said they need financial assistance to keep small stations in business, but federal broadcast regulator the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission has refused them permission to charge cable and satellite operators for carrying their content.

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