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Montreal– In a move that surprised many in the TV biz in Canada and shocked staff at the network, longtime CTVglobemedia CEO Ivan Fecan announced via a memo to staffers late Friday that he is going to step down as head of CTV. The announcement came just hours after Canada’s top telecom company BCE unveiled its plan to acquire CTV and radically reshape the Canadian TV landscape.

In his note to staff, Fecan said he had planned to retire as CEO in 2012 but said he will now leave next year, after the regulatory process and the deal are closed.

“With the sale of CTV to Bell happening now, I believe it is in the best interests of our Company for me to retire sooner — so that the new leader can have a fresh start with a new ownership structure,” Fecan said in the note.

Fecan was the man responsible for taking a loosely-knit group of stations across Canada and turning these stations into a Toronto-based network that ended up dominating the ratings game in the country for most of the past decade. He also realized early on that specialty cable channels were the future of the business and added a slew of cable channels to the CTV family, including The Comedy Network, Discovery Channel and sports channel TSN.

“I’ve had a great run,” Fecan said in the note. “When I joined this Company 17 years ago, we owned a few TV stations in Ontario and Saskatchewan and 14% of CTV, which at the time was a part-time network…..And here we are today, Canada’s #1 media company, with the best people and the most popular brands in conventional and specialty television, digital media and radio.”

Fecan first made his mark at pubcaster CBC, eventually becoming head of English programming at the network, and in the mid-80s he ankled the pubcaster to join NBC as an exec. He then returned to Canada to take-over the top job at CTV