MONTREAL – They didn’t really want to say just yet, but under questioning this morning, CRTC Commissioner Suzanne Lamarre forced Bell into divulging the list of radio stations it plans to divest assuming its plan to buy Astral Media is approved.
Bell has said all along it would sell 10 radio stations in order to remain on side of the CRTC’s common ownership policy when it comes to radio stations. While it tried to keep the list confidential saying it would add further stress to already worried employees, commissioner Lamarre was insistent, saying in French they are likely already stressed and knowing which stations are for sale likely won’t make a difference.
Among the stations for sale (and we feel pretty certain there will be no shortage of buyers) are seven Astral stations and three Bell stations. (UPDATE: Bell Media CEO Kevin Crull told Cartt.ca when the hearing's first day ended early Monday evening: “We are well into a process of divestiture and many interested parties have come forward and we will make a decision based on several criteria about it but it will be based on the criteria to maximize value for our shareholders and that is what we’ll be looking at.”) The statioins to be sold (pending CRTC approval of the Bell-Astral purchase are, from east to west:
• CKQB-FM (Rock station, The Bear) and CJOT-FM (Classic Hits, Boom 99.7) in Ottawa. The Bear is the 11th-highest rated station in the market according to the latest BBM ratings available. Boom is 14th.
• CHBM-FM (Classic Hits, Boom 97.3) and CFXJ-FM (Urban Contemporary, Flow 93.5) in Toronto. According to the most recent ratings, Boom is the fifth-highest rated station in Toronto and Flow, 12th.
• CFQX-FM (Country, QX 104) and CHIQ FM (Oldies, Fab 94.3) in Winnipeg. QX is rated 8th in the market, Fab is 9th.
• CKCE-FM (Hot AC, Kool 101.5) in Calgary. CKCE is the 10th-rated station in the market.
• CISL- AM (Oldies, AM650), CKZZ-FM (Hot AC, Virgin Radio), and CHHR-FM (Adult Alternative Shore 104), in Vancouver. Oldies 650 is the 13th-rated station, Virgin the 5th-rated and Shore, 14th.
Bell executives did not indicate whether or not they would entertain offers for the whole group or sell them of individually, or both.
- Greg O’Brien