CRTC approves SCN sale to Rogers
|June 21, 2012|
OTTAWA-GATINEAU – The CRTC has given Rogers the green light to move ahead with its acquisition of Saskatchewan Communications Network (SCN), however, the deal may be a little more expensive than Rogers had anticipated.
The Commission said Thursday that Rogers may continue to broadcast commercial programming and advertising on the educational service, as its previous owner Bluepoint Investments was allowed to do. But it also directed Rogers to invest an additional $1 million on independent production in Saskatchewan over the course of the six year licence term in order to “maintain the integrity of its licensing process and properly reflect SCN’s value”.
Bluepoint Investments pledged to spend $1.75 million per year on independent Saskatchewan production, and $1 million per year on digital production in the province over the following seven years when it purchased the station from the provincial government less than two years ago. As Cartt.ca reported, Rogers Media president Keith Pelley called that commitment, or even a portion of it, “unrealistic” when the questioned by the CRTC about maintaining that level of spending as part of the deal.
The CRTC also told Rogers that it must spend 23% of its gross annual revenues to acquire Canadian programming, including educational programming, from independent producers in Saskatchewan, plus support the creation of digital media by directing $300,000 to the Rogers Digital Development Fund. Rogers Media’s conventional television stations, including its Citytv affiliates in Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton and Winnipeg, also have a minimum 23% Canadian programming expenditure requirement.
“The Saskatchewan Communications Network’s educational, cultural and public information programs are an important facet of the province’s broadcasting landscape,” said Leonard Katz, CRTC vice-chairman of telecommunications and chair of the hearing panel, in a statement. “This transaction will enable SCN to continue to support the local independent production community for years to come.”
The CRTC also renewed SCN’s licence until August 31, 2018 which it said “will ensure that the spending commitments made by Rogers benefit the people of Saskatchewan and provide stable funding to the province’s production community.”
Rogers said in a press release that the deal is expected to close later this month, that Citytv Saskatchewan will launch on July 1st, and will be available in HD within the coming year.
Rogers Media broadcasting president Scott Moore called the deal “a vital step in the evolution of the Citytv brand” as the company continues to assemble a national network. Rogers has already announced plans to expand Citytv to the Montreal market through its purchase of Metro 14 (CJNT-TV), which is still pending regulatory approval, plus signed Pattison Broadcasting stations CFJC-TV Kamloops, CKPG-TV Prince George, and CHAT-TV Medicine Hat as Citytv affiliates that will begin airing Citytv programming this fall.
“With its growing economy, Saskatchewan is exactly the right market for the Citytv brand and we’re excited to grow this service and become an active and integrated member of this robust community”, Moore said in the release.
- Lesley Hunter