Bell Astral Media

March 16, 2012 by staff 

Bell Astral Media, The proposed purchase of Montreal-based Astral Media by Bell Canada has a big regulatory hurdle to clear, and if it is accepted by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, it would probably mean putting a Montreal English-language radio station up for sale.

The CRTC’s common ownership policy, set in 1998, sets limits on how many radio stations can be held by the same owner. In large markets with eight or more commercial stations operating in the same language, a single owner can have no more than two AM and two FM stations in the same language in that market. This will probably require sales of stations in Ottawa, Toronto, Winnipeg, Calgary and Vancouver.

Montreal’s English-language market, with only five commercial stations, is considered small under this policy, and has the additional restriction of allowing no more than three stations total under the same owner. A Bell-Astral merger would violate this in Montreal.

Astral owns CJAD, CHOM and Virgin Radio 96, which it purchased when it bought Standard Broadcasting in 2007. Bell owns TSN Radio 990, which CTVglobemedia purchased when it bought CHUM Limited in the same year (Bell bought CTV last year). To comply with the common ownership policy, one of these would have to be sold.

The only other English commercial radio station in Montreal is 92.5 The Beat, owned by Cogeco Diffusion.

Bell Media doesn’t own any French-language radio stations in Quebec. The deal would give Bell control of the NRJ, Rouge FM and Boom FM music station networks in Quebec.

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