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BCE Approved for Astral Media Takeover

Canadian media regulator the CRTC approves a revised bid by Bell Media-parent BCE to acquire Astral Media for $3.4 billion.

Canadian media regulator the CRTC has approved the revised bid by Bell Media-parent BCE to acquire Astral Media for roughly $3.4 billion, according to a report by Kidscreen.

The regulatory decision means Astral Media will be broken up, with significant parts of the company acquired by Bell Media, while other assets are picked up by competitors, including Corus Entertainment.

Following the decision, BCE has released some details of its immediate next steps as the transaction moves forward.

The acquisition, which will close on July 5, will create a combined company lead by a team of senior Astral and Bell Media execs, the company reportedly said in a statement.

While Montréal will remain the center for French-language programming, Bell Media will open new regional development offices in Halifax, Winnipeg and Vancouver. Upon the transaction closing, Astral president and CEO Ian Greenberg will join the BCE board of directors.

As per BCE’s revised proposal to the CRTC, the company is divesting Astral assets including Teletoon/Télétoon, Teletoon Retro/Télétoon Rétro, Cartoon Network (Canada), Historia and Séries+, and two Ottawa radio stations to Corus Entertainment, a transaction valued at US$400.6 million.

TV services on the auction block are Family, including Disney Junior, Disney XD, Musimax and MusiquePlus.

Bell Media will add eight Astral pay and specialty TV services to its roster: English-language service The Movie Network (which includes HBO Canada and TMN Encore), and French-language Super Écran, Cinépop, Canal Vie, Canal D, VRAK TV, and Ztélé.

Bell Media will also acquire Astral’s two rural OTA TV stations in B.C., CJDC in Dawson Creek and CFTK in Terrace, as well as Astral’s interest in the Viewer’s Choice Canada pay-per-view service. The company will also add 77 Astral radio stations, including NRJ, Virgin Radio, Rouge fm and EZ Rock to its radio operations.

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