Bell Media moves to comply with conditions of Astral Media deal
Bell Media has made its first move as the soon-to-be owner of Astral Media – announcing plans to shutter a Montreal sports station that broadcasts in English and replace it with one that broadcasts sports in French.
It’s the first step that Bell, owned by BCE Inc., will have to take to meet strict ownership requirements of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, which dictate how many stations per market any one media company can own.
Bell said it would also have to sell 10 stations – nine FM and one AM in Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary, Ottawa and Winnipeg – to win approval from the regulator.
“These are not market forces that make this happen,” said Chris Gordon, the president of radio and local television for Bell Media. “But these are the rules now so it’s not the time to worry about that. It’s simply a case of having to do it.”
The decision to close TSN Radio 990 and replace it with RDS Radio is an example of the challenges the company faces in securing approval of the deal that will sharply increase the ownership concentration in the Canadian broadcast industry.