11/16/2012 09:52 EST | Updated 01/16/2013 05:12 EST

Astral confirms new BCE takeover offer in the works

Astral Media confirmed Friday it is in discussions about bringing BCE's takeover offer for the Montreal-based media company back to life and win ultimate approval from regulators.

A report published report in the Globe and Mail Friday says BCE Inc. was close to a deal that will see it take over Astral Media after selling off some English-language assets to clear regulatory hurdles.

Around midday, Astral confirmed that news in a press release. " While it is Astral's policy not to comment on market rumours or speculation, Astral today confirms that it is in discussions with Bell to continue pursuing regulatory approvals for Bell's acquisition of Astral," the company said.

Shares in Astral media were halted on the TSX Friday, a step that's normally taken when a company has major news coming out.

Previous deal rejected

A $3 billion tie-up between the two companies pitched earlier this year was scuttled last month after the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission said consumers and cultural products wouldn't be well-served by the transaction.

At the time, BCE said it was disappointed with the decision, but asked for more time to come back with another offer structure.

The paper said the core of the new deal will see BCE take over Montreal-based Astral with a pledge to sell off a number of assets in an auction to rivals, enough to keep its reach small enough to get approval from Canada's broadcast regulator.

When approached by CBC News, BCE declined comment on the reports.

Astral Media owns 25 TV specialty services, including the Movie Network, and more than 80 radio stations.