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.
UPDATE: Nathalie Collard also has some thoughts on the matter.
Corus in fact didn’t have the licences rescinded for 690 and 940. I wonder if these are quietly going to be part of the deal as well. Guess we’ll have to wait for the CRTC’s paperwork on it.
I can’t imagine there being a secret component to this deal, considering both companies have shareholders and are required to divulge this kind of stuff.
Besides, changing hands doesn’t make it any easier to make money on an AM startup.
There is another station in Sherbrooke: CIMO 106.1, the NRJ affiliate. So that would make 3 of 5 owned by Cogeco, with the other two both being Astral.
The legal ownership limit for any company is four French stations in Montreal (FM or AM or any combination), so Cogeco will already be at their limit when they add the three Corus French stations to their portfolio. They would have to divest one of their properties if the AM690 license was included in the sale. Unless there’s some legal loophole and CFGL is licensed as a Laval station, not a Montreal station. These situations happen all the time all across Canada as ownership is consolidated.
Again very bad for the industry and for the public. The CRTC should be allowing such concentration of media ownership in any market.
I am reading this blog on my iPod touch and listening to music from my iTunes. I do the same at work, I listen to music streaming off of iTunes. I ask sarcastically, what is radio? Why are people paying bags of money to own these “radio” networks? I am intrigued by this days gone by concept of doing business. Is this some sort of retro thing, sort of nostalgia? I have heard of people paying a lot of money for superhero dolls, from back in the day, as long as the wrapping is intact. Is this the same notion? It is kind of quaint if you think about it. Radio. What a crazy concept. The person on his death bed is always the last to know.
There is still a demand for radio. Not everybody wants to listen to their iPods or stream audio. Don’t forget, to stream audio you need to have your computer on.
If somebody is in the kitchen working, or in the garage doing a clean up, or some other place that their computer is not in… Radio is very simple and portable to place in any room you happen to be in at any point in time. The same goes for Car radios on peoples commutes. Even some of these pod like products have now added a AM/FM/HD-Radio tuners to them. There is a demand.
Does radio in general suck. Oh ya! In most cases it sucks big time. But, this I blame on too few players owning too many stations in each market. This point is even more of a problem when news is being supplied. One news story is presented over 3 or 4 local stations. The effect on the listener is a flooding of the same opinion all over the dial. When in reality it’s just one opinion and nothing more. This is dangerous.
I am not a spring chicken. I have grown up with the radio on, in my bedroom, in the garage, in the backyard when lounging. But if an old man like myself has moved away from radio, you could imagine how, the youths, who are constantly plugged into their headphones and are always burning up their 3G download limits, will drastically change the need for radio on a day to day bases. Who today actually turns off their computer? Throw a couple of speakers on that and you have music all over the house. It is nice to hold on and be nostalgic about the bygone days, but the past is just that. Much like the print business, the radio and T.V business as we know it is a goner. So who would want to spend money buying up junk?
Interesting that CORUS would wholesale abandon one of the largest radio markets in Canada (montreal). Albeit many of the stations were not making any money in the smaller markets including Gatineau which was a large disappointment. The price of 80 million is definately a bargain basement price considering they just spent a great deal of money on their new studio facilities in Montreal. Perhaps CORUS feels that there are winds of change happening in Quebec and they may have just seen fit to cut and run.
I’m not sure how Trudel came up with his Quebecor hunch.
I always thought that media companiesin Canada were limited to only two fields of media activity for each market they serve. For instance, if you already own newspapers and TV stations in any given market, a radio station would be a big NO-NO.
So, if I understand the situation correctly, that would put any radio deal out of Quebecor’s reach pretty much everywhere in Quebec and in the greater Toronto area (where they own SUN TV).
Or did I get it all wrong?
The CRTC evaluates concentration of media ownership as a factor in transfer of ownership, and as a general rule you’re right – TV, radio and print, you can own two of the three in a market.
I guess Corus ran out of easy ways to slash and burn, and decided to go with wholesale offloading of the radio properties. Operating in a different language isn’t always easy for a company, Corus certainly appeared to be in way over their heads in the Quebec market, consolidating radio properties and taking a few of them out behind the woodshed for the shot between the eyes that takes them out entirely.
I think it very disappointing that Montreal is one of the few major Canadian cities without an all news / mostly news station. Corus pretty much killed that format here, even after attempting to leverage it with every other station they owned.
I can’t help but thinking that the CRTC is not going to look very favorably on this whole process, mostly because it continues a trend towards consolidation that will soon leave the Quebec market with less than a handful of companies controlling almost every market, and little that suggests that Cogeco will be able to save these sinking ships as a collection of overlapping, non-competing properties.
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