CRTC, Media & Telco News – Shaw to divest itself of 38.6% stake in Corus

Shaw Communications has announced its intent to divest itself of its 38.6% stake in Corus Entertainment. Shaw says it’s entered into an agreement with a syndicate of underwriters led by TD Securities, who have agreed to purchase an aggregate of 80,630,383 “Class B” Corus shares at $6.80 per share, amounting to more than $548 million. Corus will not receive any of the proceeds from the offering. The deal is expected to close May 31, subject to conditions. The Calgary-based telecommunications company had been trying to sell its stake in Corus for the past 10 months, according to reports, to fund the expansion of its flanker brand Freedom Mobile. TD Securities had been hired to find a buyer, but a sale to any of the incumbent broadcasters like Rogers, Bell or Quebecor, would likely have faced intense scrutiny from the Competition Bureau.

The CRTC has directed 14 broadcasters, including APTN, Super Channel, Bell, Channel Zero, Corus, DHX, Fairchild, V, Pattison, Quebecor, RNC, Rogers, TV5 and Zoomer, to comply with a request for information. The commission is seeking financial data on digital media broadcasting activities to better understand their impact on traditional television services. The broadcasters had expressed concern regarding the disclosure of confidential financial information, the difficulty involved in separating traditional and digital data, and potential variations in the accounting practices of respondents.

The CRTC and participating Internet service providers (ISPs) are seeking participants for the Measuring Broadband Canada project, which tests the speeds of home wireline broadband internet services. Participants will receive a device, called a “Whitebox,” that will connect directly to their modem or router. The Whitebox will periodically measure broadband performance, testing a number of parameters, including download and upload speeds. The measurement tests will run when users are not actively using their internet connection. The results will give Canadians, the CRTC and ISPs a better understanding of whether consumers of broadband services from participating ISPs are getting the advertised speeds they expect. It will also provide additional insight into network performance, including actual connection speeds. Using the results as a baseline, the CRTC will publish a report. Canadians who wish to participate can apply by completing an online form.

Quebecor has announced consolidated financial results for the first quarter of 2019, including an increase of more than 100% in its quarterly dividend. Highlights include revenues of $1.03 billion in Q1, up $25.3 million or 2.5% from the same period of 2018. Adjusted EBITDA was $420.7 million, up $4.8 million (1.2%). Adjusted EBITDA increased by $15.9 million (3.9%), without restatement of comparative figures following the adoption of IFRS 16. Net income attributable to shareholders of $189.0 million ($ 0.74 per basic share), compared to $ 57.1 million ($ 0.24 per basic share) in the same period of 2018, a favorable variance of $ 131.9 million ($ 0.50 per basic share). Quebecor’s Telecommunications segment posted revenue growth of $22.0 million (2.7%) and adjusted EBITDA of $5.8 million (1.4%). Videotron revenues were also up in the first quarter for mobile telephony ($15.6 million or 12.4%), Internet access ($12 million or 4.6%) and equipment sold to customers ($3.7 million or 8.1%).

The Atlantic Journalism Awards were presented Saturday night at the Halifax Harbourfront Marriott. News 95.7 (CJNI-FM) Halifax won gold in the Best Radio Newscast category, while CBC PEI’s Compass won Best Television News Broadcast. Find the list of finalists here.

RTDNA Canada handed out its National & Network Awards of Excellence at a gala event in Toronto Saturday night. Find the full list of winners here.

RTDNA Canada has commissioned a new poll that finds Canadians trust in traditional news media is beginning to rebound, with the exception of talk radio, online publications or social media. Seven in 10 (72%) Canadians surveyed by Ipsos say they have confidence in traditional news media – such as TV and radio news, newspapers, and news magazines – when it comes to fully, accurately and fairly reporting. That’s up seven points from 2018, however Millennials (those aged 18-34) are much less trusting (60%) than Gen X’ers aged 35-54 (74%) or Boomers aged 55+ (79%). Looking at news sources individually, trust in broadcast TV news is up two points over last year to 61%, print newspapers (58%, -1), news radio (54%, +3), news websites (52%, +1) and cable news (51%, unchanged). However, talk radio (42%, +2), online-only news publications (28%, -6), social media in general (14%, -3), and more specifically Facebook (11%, -3) and Twitter (10%, -2) are all less trusted with most online and social media channels declining in trust. Read more here.

Friends of Canadian Broadcasting has commissioned a new poll from Nanos that finds a majority of respondents believe increasing CBC funding would strengthen democracy, with most (76%) saying they would advise their MP to vote to increase (46%) or maintain (33%) funding to the public broadcaster. A strong majority (84%) of respondents said the decline in print media is cause for a stronger and more independent CBC. Nanos also found that 77% of those polled agree (52%) or somewhat agree (25%) that foreign companies like Netflix that broadcast into Canada over the internet should be subject to the same rules as Canadian companies that broadcast by cable, satellite or over the air.


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