Shaw sweetens benefits package

The carrot dangled by Shaw Communications to win approval for its $2 billion purchase of Canwest Global Communications Corp's TV assets on Thursday became a bushel.
Shaw Canwest logo

The carrot dangled by Shaw Communications to win approval for its $2 billion purchase of Canwest Global Communications Corp’s TV assets on Thursday became a bushel.

Shaw promised $55 million more for indie TV production as part of its tangible benefits package submitted to the CRTC.

On Tuesday, the cabler proposed $24 million for scripted fare, and by Thursday that figure had grown to $79.1 million for 8-point dramas, after unions and guilds on Wednesday urged the regulator to direct more of Shaw’s $200 million in tangible benefits into 10-point dramas and other labor-intensive programming.

Shaw also promised $15-million for free satellite TV gear for rural markets that rely on rabbit ears,­ a pet project of CRTC chair Konrad von Finckenstein, and $23 million to convert additional TV transmitters to digital.

The cabler also repeated its commitment for non-exclusivity of its programming content across its media empire, with Brad Shaw, executive vice president of Shaw, telling the CRTC: “We like money. We like it Canadian and green.”

Von Finckenstein on Tuesday urged Shaw to sweeten its benefits package after the original submission contained $95 million in promised expenditures left over from its 2007 acquisition of the former Alliance Atlantis Communications.

The CRTC said Shaw deserved a discount for raising Canwest Global out of creditor protection, but differed with the cabler on its size.

Shaw’s revised benefits package now stands at $180.1 million, in expenditures over seven years, or 8.8% of the $2 billion acquisition price for Canwest Global.

And Shaw is still on the hook for the $95 million in tangible benefits for the AAC purchase still outstanding.