Cogeco Media to acquire 10 of RNC Media’s 15 radio stations

RNC Media is vastly decreasing its role as a major radio broadcaster, and has agreed to sell 10 of its 15 radio stations to competitor Cogeco for $18.5 million.

Affected stations are:

  • Planète 104.5 in Alma
  • Planète 93.5 in Chibougamau
  • Planète 99.5 in Roberval
  • Planète 100.3 in Dolbeau-Mistassini
  • Radio X 95.7 in Saguenay (repeater at 96.3 Alma)
  • Capitale Rock 104.3 in Val-d’Or
  • Capitale Rock 102.1 in La Sarre (repeater at 95.7 Rouyn-Noranda)
  • WOW 96.5 in Rouyn-Noranda (repeaters at 103.5 Val d’Or and 103.9 La Sarre)
  • Pop 104.9 in Lachute
  • Pop 102.1 in Hawkesbury

The sale leaves RNC Media with five stations in its three largest markets:

  • CKLX-FM (91,9 Sports) in Montreal
  • CHOI-FM (Radio X) in Quebec City
  • CHXX-FM (Pop 100.9) in Donnacona (serving Quebec City, repeater at 105.5 Lotbinière)
  • CFTX-FM (Pop 96.5) In Gatineau (repeater at 107.5 Buckingham)
  • CHLX-FM (Wow 97.1) in Gatineau

Cogeco already has two French-language FM stations in Montreal and Quebec City, which means there was no point in Cogeco acquiring them. It has one station (CKOF-FM 104,7) in Gatineau. The acquired stations will be its first in the Saguenay and Abitibi regions.

RNC Media also owns TVA and V affiliates in Gatineau and Abitibi-Témiscamingue. It recently announced it was shutting down its Radio-Canada affiliate in Abitibi, CKRN. RNC said the Montreal, Quebec and Gatineau stations were “not on the market.”

The sale requires approval by the CRTC before it can proceed. Because of the CRTC’s 6% tangible benefits tax on radio station sales, we can expect a package of $1.11 million in contributions to Canadian content development funds, community radio funds or other independent broadcasting initiatives. We should also expect some of these stations to join Cogeco’s network brands, particularly Rythme FM.

A map of Quebec’s major commercial radio networks: Cogeco Media (purple), RNC Media (red, with pending sales in reddish purple), Bell Media (blue), Attraction Radio (black) and Groupe Radio Simard (gold).

If the acquisition goes through, Cogeco’s radio network will cover the vast majority of the province’s population. Of population centres over 15,000, the only ones that wouldn’t be within 100 kilometres of a transmitter would be Rimouski and Sept-Îles.

4 thoughts on “Cogeco Media to acquire 10 of RNC Media’s 15 radio stations

  1. dilbert

    Without a doubt, the stations will face a rebranding. The Planete stations are good candidates to go to Rythme FM format. It would be a solid move that would move that format into a near province wide thing. Less obvious is what to do with the Pop, Capitale Rock and Radio X branded stations, as Cogeco doesn’t seem to have a ready in house brand for them.

    What I think you will see happen here is consolidation and centralization. Each station is likely to lose some of their local hosts as they move to Rythme “network” programming for at least part of the day (likely mid-day and possibly evenings and overnights). You can also expect the news, sports, and weather to come from a more centralized resource.

    Radio (like print) is a declining market for advertising. Since on air staff and studio space is often some of the biggest overhead items, you can see where shrinking it down may be the best choice. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Cogeco even try to move maybe the Pop branded stations to a more automated, no-DJ style style similar to the automated Bob-FM stations. It’s generic enough, and would cut costs dramatically – have a local morning show, maybe a local drive home show, and the rest is automated to the network. Cost savings and bottom line efficiency!

    The real question will be “who will buy the rest of RNC?”. This is their second move to essentially sell themselves out of business, The 5 radio stations are major Quebec markets, perhaps a player like Evanov might want to step up and trade around some properties to get higher power FM in those areas.

    Consolidation. It’s a never ending process until you have only a few players left.

    1. Brett

      I don’t see Evanov doing a trade as their only French station in Quebec isn’t so popular. Don’t hear people mention AM 980. Besides of RNC is looking to get out of the radio business why trade a higer rated staion for something lower rated?

      1. dilbert

        I don’t think RNC wants to end up with anything. Evanov would be right up against their limits if they bought these (at least in Montreal).


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