Canwest considers selling E! network, including CJNT

Canwest (my employer) issued a news release today saying it is “exploring strategic options” for its second network of broadcast television stations, including CJNT in Montreal, which form the E! network (formerly CH). The options, it says, could include selling them.

Canwest, which has been struggling with huge debt, has been exploring options in its vast media empire, saying it wanted to protect its core assets (11 major dailies, comunity weeklies, the Global television network, cable networks and and related websites).

The press release says specifically that “as they are currently configured, these stations are not core to our television operations going forward.”

CJNT, broadcasting on Channel 62, is Montreal’s ethnic TV station. It changed hands a few times, finally going to Canwest in 2000. Its CRTC license requires a minimum amount of locally-produced ethnic community programming, but for the rest of primetime the station carries simulcasted U.S. shows. In 2007, CJNT and other CH stations were rebranded as E!, focusing on celebrity gossip, but keeping the primetime sloppy seconds from Global.

Affected stations

So, anyone wanna buy CJNT?

UPDATE: The Globe and Mail, obviously, is all over this story, saying that someone picking up the stations for peanuts would be easier than Canwest continuing to run money-losing operations or having to face severe shutdown costs.

The Globe also says that Astral, Rogers and others aren’t interested in buying broadcast television outlets, preferring cable channels instead. Getting rid of these might end up being as difficult as getting rid of TQS.

La Presse quotes from CJNT’s general manager (one of six employees at the station) saying it’s not bad news if it gets sold.

11 thoughts on “Canwest considers selling E! network, including CJNT

    1. Fagstein Post author

      That actually makes quite a bit of sense, especially since there’s no overlap. It would also give Rogers its first TV station in Montreal.

      The only question is whether Rogers is ready to invest in more broadcast television stations (and upgrade them to digital transmitters) in this media and economic climate.

  1. James

    Did Canwest make a significant outlay in the Canadian rights to the E! brand? Or are we – just coincidentally – approaching the end of 12 / 24 / x (delete as appropriate) month period that they’re allowed to use it?

  2. adsf

    E! is all reality shows – how can they not make money off stupid people watching that all day long

    cable companies need to give HBO on a nomral free channel / basic cable channel

  3. Gujawaa

    If E folds, which there is talk of in some press releases, how will I get to watch my American programming? Oh wait, I get FOX, NBC, ABC and CBS, that’s how!

    Hopefully this is the first step in the crumbling of Canwest.

  4. Gary

    So I asked CHCH TV out of Hamilton, Ontario directly myself if they ever produced their own programming, and this was their reply:

    “Hi, In answer to your question, yes it has – for example, the Red Green show, which began production at CHCH long before CBC ever took it on. At one time when it was an entirely independent station it was also known as Canada’s movie superstation – broadcasting all the best movies first before the major networks, broadcast NHL hockey and live university sports, and several other shows. I would direct you to this history or the CHCH article on for some of this information.

    It was when Canwest took over that the last of the non-news programming was dropped.”

    Wow, the last sentence speaks volumes: “It was when Canwest took over that the last of the non-news programming was dropped.” So a person working at CHCH even admits that when Canwest took over, they stopped producing their own material that wasn’t news related. Sad to see even themselves admit it, but us viewers have known for a long time that Canadian networks aren’t producing anything. But now we have it from the horses mouth – can’t be any more clear than that. The CRTC can’t argue against employees that work at these networks themselves. This response conveys to everyone just how sad the broadcasting state of affairs is in Canada.

  5. Mike Niles

    I hope no one buys “E” and that Global dies. They serve no purpose other than to simsub. The only Canadian content they had was news which they are shutting down because it’s too expensive, and one or two shows which will end up on CTV or CBC.

    I grew up with only CTV simsubs in the Montreal area, which were rare. Now with Global (since 1997) and after they bought CJNT and made it part of CH/E almost every U.S. channel is simsubbed (imagine how bad it is in places with A, OMNI and Sun on top of that). We didn’t have a Canwest Global presence before and we were just fine. They’ve been more of an annoyance than anything else.

    They get so much protection (simsubs, blocking out of U.S. competitors, etc.) and yet they STILL can’t manage to turn a profit despite operating in major cities. If they’re that bad of a business then there’s no point keeping them alive on life support.

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