Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Bell Globemedia Set to Acquire CHUM

Just a quick item that may become fact in an hour or so. Bell Globemedia looks to be acquiring CHUM, and the news should come down later today.

This media convergence business sure is interesting. Bell Globemedia is basically the content arm of BCE, parent of Bell Canada. Technically, BCE owns roughly 2/3 of them - that's good enough for me. They own a lot of properties, including the Globe & Mail, the CTV television network (21 stations), and tons of specialty/digital channels.

CHUM has quite a legacy of its own - 33 radio stations, and lots of local TV stations and specialty channels. Most importantly, they pretty much defined cool TV for the youth market, especially the MTV crowd. If anyone knows how to build audiences with the youth market and the vast array of lifestyle niche markets that cable TV seems to be invented for, it's CHUM. On that point alone, Bell will be in a much stronger position to attract and keep the youth market in the fold, especially once IPTV comes along. Smart move if you ask me.

On paper, this is a relatively small deal for BCE, but it sure bulks up their content and distribution arms. This would make for one impressive force, and is another example how the big stay big. I don't know if this will raise any regulatory issues in terms of concentration of media ownership, much like what seems to be happening in the US.

Recently, I've been lauding Telus for its recent moves to stay ahead of Bell, and they all make sense. So, here we go, a day after Telus announces its Toronto office tower plans, Bell ups the ante by going after what is arguably the most desirable independent media/content property available. I'm not sure what Telus will have to do to keep pace in this department, so the ball falls back in their court - once again. The consolidation of our communications sector continues...

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1 comment:

ipcom said...

Posted by: Mark Goldberg

Jon - I don't really see this as being integral to BCE, since they are shedding 46% of their holdings to retain just 20%.

While it bulks up Globemedia in competing against Canwest, there are a lot of areas that will need to assets to be shed because of too much concentration of ownership.

How much of this is a test of the government approval process while there are broadcast policy reviews underway?

I agree fully that this will likely trigger other companies to examine consolidation and acquisition opportunities, especially when Globemedia/CHUM look at which properties need to be sold off in order to gain the approvals.