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 Canada.com 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.
- CJNT-TV, Montreal
- CHCH-TV, Hamilton, Ont.
- CHCA-TV, Red Deer, Alta.
- CHBC-TV, Kelowna, B.C.
- CHEK-TV, Victoria, B.C.
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.