Bell To Acquire Quebec’s Astral Media
BCE Inc.’s (BCE-T39.64-0.42-1.05%) massive bet on media is going truly national, as the communications giant makes a $3-billion play for Astral Media Inc. (ACM.A-T48.5512.3033.93%)to shore up its broadcasting business in the one province where it was weak: Quebec.
The deal, announced Friday, gives the country’s largest communications firm a stable of French-language television and radio stations to compete with rival Quebecor Inc. It also cements BCE’s position as the leading force of consolidation in Canada’s media industry: Since 2010, it has announced deals worth nearly $7-billion to buy control of CTV Inc., Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment Ltd., and now Montreal-based Astral.
If approved by broadcast and competition regulators, the transaction would also mark the end of an era in Canadian broadcasting.
The vast majority of the country’s television and radio assets would be controlled by four telecommunications companies – BCE, Vidéotron Ltée, Rogers Communications Inc., and Shaw Communications Inc. – after the disappearance of large, family-controlled media firms like Astral and CanWest Global Communications Corp.
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