BUSINESS

CRTC Gives Green Light To Corus-Shaw Media Deal

03/23/2016 06:11 EDT | Updated 03/23/2016 07:59 EDT

TORONTO — Corus Entertainment (TSX:CJR.B) says it plans to complete its $2.65-billion acquisition of Shaw Media on April 1 after getting approval from Canada's broadcast regulator.

Under the deal, Corus is acquiring the Global Television network and 19 specialty channels, including HGTV Canada, Food Network Canada and Showcase from Shaw Communications Ltd. (TSX:SJR.B).

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The sale of Shaw Media to Toronto-based Corus was announced in January 2016. (Photo: The Canadian Press)

In all, Corus said the combined portfolio encompasses 45 specialty services, 15 conventional channels, 39 radio stations, a global content business and a growing portfolio of digital assets.

Both Corus, which was spun off from Shaw in 1999, and Shaw Communications are controlled by the Shaw family through their holdings of class A shares of both companies.

In announcing its approval Wednesday, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission noted that fact, saying the change in ownership "does not result in a change in effective control of either entity."

Meanwhile, it said the transaction positions Corus as a stronger player with enhanced scale that can offer better services and higher-quality programming to Canadians, consistent with the regulator's goals.

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The purchase of Shaw Media requires the approval of Corus shareholders. (Photo: The Canadian Press)

However, the Canadian Media Producers Association said it was worried that the deal will see Corus dominate women's, lifestyle and children's programming in Canada, "ultimately reducing the diversity and quality of programming available to Canadian audiences."

"Today's CRTC decision sends a shiver down the spine of Canada's independent producers, who now face the hard realities of a hyper-consolidated broadcasting sector," Reynolds Mastin, president and CEO of the association, said in a statement.

In its statement, the association said it fears Corus will use its greater negotiating power to extract "even more rights and revenues'' from independent producers.

"The CMPA warns this will essentially reduce producers to the role of service providers, which will limit their ability to take creative risks, while downloading onto them the enormous financial risks involved in making television shows."

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