Astral integrates Radiomutuel TV

Montreal: The crtc has approved Astral Communications’ $227-million July acquisition of Montreal media company Radiomutuel.

The authorization formalizes Astral’s takeover of four French-language tv specialty services. The four include two wholly-owned services, Canal Vie and technology channel Canal z – the latter set to launch on Jan. 31 – along with MusiquePlus and MusiMax, owned jointly by Astral and Toronto-based CHUM Ltd.

Astral chairman Andre Bureau says Canal Vie and Canal z will become part of Les Chaines Tele-Astral under president and ceo Pierre Roy. Bureau and Astral president and ceo Ian Greenberg will sit on a four-person board directing MusiquePlus and MusiMax, along with two representatives from chum.

The takeover also gives Astral new assets in radio, outdoor advertising and advertising sales.

Astral’s new broadcast centre in downtown Montreal is also prepping for the Jan. 31 launch of Historia (licensed as Canal Histoire) and Series+ (licensed as Canal Fiction), both equal partnerships with Toronto-based Alliance Atlantis Communications.

The apftq producers association supported Astral’s takeover of Radiomutuel’s tv assets because of the broadcaster’s promise to continue to buy all programming from independent prodcos.

In the French-language market, Bureau estimates Astral’s share of overall viewing, with the acquisitions, is in the order of 6% to 7%. He estimates Astral will pull in 30% of all specialty viewing and 3.4% of the market’s advertising revenues.

Including Astral Television Networks, Astral and its partners hold 20 broadcast licences, including 10 specialty channels.