CTV acquires CFCF-TV: $12M benefits package

Montreal: Some claim it's taken 40 years, but finally CTV has a real home in Montreal.
The network has acquired 100% interest in CF Television, changing CFCF-TV's status from long-term affiliate to a wholly owned and operated station.
CTV's takeover of CF Television was approved by the CRTC earlier this month, and the deal was signed and closed on Thursday, Sept. 13, says Tom Curzon, CTV's group VP, corporate communications.

Montreal: Some claim it’s taken 40 years, but finally CTV has a real home in Montreal.

The network has acquired 100% interest in CF Television, changing CFCF-TV’s status from long-term affiliate to a wholly owned and operated station.

CTV’s takeover of CF Television was approved by the CRTC earlier this month, and the deal was signed and closed on Thursday, Sept. 13, says Tom Curzon, CTV’s group VP, corporate communications.

CFCF is Quebec’s top-rated English-language TV station. Its supper-hour flagship news program, Pulse News, had a more than enviable 60% audience share last fall.

In closing, CTV reported an aggregate purchase price of approximately $128 million (including the $121.5-million purchase price reported to the CRTC this spring and accumulated interim debt by the fall), plus the assumed indebtedness of CFCF. CTV acquires CanWest Global’s 70% interest and the 30% held by CDP Capital Communications, a subsidiary of pension fund manager Caisse de depot et du placement du Quebec.

The deal triggers a five-year benefits package valued at more than $12.1 million, a significant and timely development for Quebec’s independent production sector. Despite the widely acknowledged best efforts of CFCF programming VP Bill Merrill, many Quebec producers have not benefited from national network licences, partly due to structural issues.

CTV’s acquisition ends close to five years of unstable ownership, and in some measure neglect, for CFCF.

Videotron tried unsuccessfully to buy CF Television in 1996. In ’97, the assets were purchased by Vancouver-based WIC Television in partnership with the Caisse de depot. In 2000, ownership was transferred to CanWest Global following its entangled takeover of WIC. And because CFCF was obliged to take only 40 hours a week of CTV network programming, viewers in Montreal were served a hybrid schedule, unable to directly access popular network shows like Cold Squad, Magician’s House or

the award-winning aboriginal mag

First Story.

The $12.1-million benefits package includes:

* an investment of $6 million over five years in CTV Signature Presentation productions, including a minimum of $3.86 million for independent Quebec production. (As part of its cross-cultural initiative launched with BCE’s $2.32-billion acquisition of CTV, the broadcaster in association with Reseau TVA, commissioned the Gemini award-winning movie Dr. Lucille, directed by George Mihalka and starring Marina Orsini. And this year, Montreal production houses Galafilm and Muse Entertainment are partnering on new CTV movies with producers in Ontario and Alberta.)

* an investment of $1.9 million in a Montreal development office, including $200,000 a year for five years in script and concept funding, exclusive to Quebec-based producers

* a Diversity Initiative grant of $150,000 hosted by the Pearson-Shoyama Institute

* an investment of $3 million in a ‘new special investigative journalism unit’

* and just over $1.1 million in grants to ancillary industry organizations including the CRB Foundations’ Historica series of TV and new media productions, the Cinematheque Quebecoise and INIS ($260,000), Quebec’s advanced film and TV school.

CTV operates 27 TV stations across the country and has interests in 33 specialty and pay channels (including three Category 1 and 19 Category 2 digital specialty licences) as well as in production and music publishing. Based in Toronto, CTV is owned by Bell Globemedia, owner of The Globe and Mail, Globe Interactive and Sympatico-Lycos. *

-www.ctv.ca