Pierre Trudel thought it was Quebecor, but Quebecor had it right: Cogeco, a cable provider in Ontario and parts of Quebec, which also owns the Rythme FM radio network and used to own TQS before that went into bankruptcy, has announced that it will acquire Corus Quebec's radio network, pending CRTC approval.
The transaction, valued at about $80 million, includes:
- CJRC-FM Souvenirs Garantis 104.7 in Gatineau
- CIME-FM 103.9 in St-Jerome
- CHLT-FM Souvenirs Garantis 107.7 in Sherbrooke
- CKOY-FM 104.5 in Sherbrooke
- CHLN-FM Souvenirs Garantis 106.9 in Trois-Rivieres
- CFOM-FM Souvenirs Garantis 102.9 in Quebec City
- CFEL-FM ("CKOI") 102.1 in Quebec City
It's hard to tell from a simple press release what this all means. Cogeco has experience in radio, so I wouldn't expect any major overhauls immediately (except, I guess, having to rename "Corus Nouvelles"). But CFQR would be Cogeco's first anglophone radio station, for what that's worth.
On the francophone side, this would mean a loss of competition. Instead of three major players (Astral Media is the other, owning the NRJ and Rock Détente networks), there would be two. CKOI and CFGL would come under the same owner, working together instead of competing with each other for music listeners.
In Sherbrooke, it's worse: Three of the four five commercial music stations, CKOY, CHLT and CFGE, would all be owned by Cogeco, leaving CITE-FM-1 Rock Détente 102.7 and CIMO-FM 106.1 NRJ in nearby Magog as the only competition.
In Trois Rivières, it would be two for Cogeco, two for Astral. Same for Quebec City, though there's more competition there from independents.
It's also worth noting that this sale comes mere months after Corus cut local programming at Souvenirs Garantis stations CJRC, CHLT and CHLN.
What about CKRS?
CKRS 98.3FM in Saguenay, the fourth Souvenirs Garantis station that got its morning show cut to be replaced with Paul Arcand, is not part of the transaction. Corus has been looking to get rid of that station, and the deadline for bids was yesterday, and the new owner (if there is one) should be known soon.