New Bell, Astral deal in the works: report

Posted By: Canadian Press · 11/16/2012 11:36:00 AM

Trading in shares of Astral Media Inc (parent company of Newstalk 1010) was halted Friday after a report that BCE Inc. was planning to make a new takeover offer for the broadcasting and advertising company.

The CRTC killed a $3.4-billion deal last month, saying it wasn't in the best interests of Canadians.

Telecom giant BCE and Astral Media Inc. stayed mum on a reworking of the friendly takeover deal on Friday.

''We will not comment,'' an Astral spokesman said. BCE also declined to comment.

The Globe and Mail newspaper reported that those familiar with the talks say the new deal seeks to overcome regulatory opposition with a plan to auction off a number of Astral's English broadcast assets.

Both Astral and BCE have said they want to try to find a way to make the deal work and win CRTC approval.

Astral CEO Ian Greenberg recently said he still wants his company to be bought and was looking for ways to have the acquisition go ahead.  

The CRTC said if it had allowed the deal, BCE would have controlled almost 45 per cent of the English TV viewership and almost 35 per cent of the French market.

Bell disagreed, saying it would have been under the 35 per cent limit in both the English TV market.

The discrepancy arises because Bell includes U.S. competitors in the calculations, while the CRTC did not.

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